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The American nation presents two faces to 
the world. The first is that of a virile and pro- 
gressive society offering increasing abundance 
and opportunity to all. The second is that of 
a society infected with a corrupt affluence, 
with an increasing laxity of morals and vul- 
garity of taste, and with an ever-widening 
gulf between its privileged and under-privi- 
leged members. 

The First New Nation undertakes to reconcile 
these two images with the singular American 
reality. It points out that the world has always 
had this double vision of America, for Amer- 
ica has always had this double vision of itself. 
And it traces this peculiar American situation 
to an original emphasis upon two distinctive 
values: equality and achievement. These 
values may complement one another or they 
may contradict one another. To observe at- 
tentively the constant interplay between them, 
as Professor Lipset has done, is to win new 
insight into what is so uniquely "American" 
about American democracy. 

The book helps to explain, for instance, why 
American democracy displays such striking 
differences from democracy as it is practiced 
in other Anglo-Saxon nations (Canada, Aus- 
tralia, Britain) or in the countries of Western 
Europe. It sheds light on the distinctively 

(continued on back flap) 





Political Man 1960 

Social Mobility in Industrial Society 1959 
(with Reinhard Bendix) 

Union Democracy 1956 
( with Martin Trow and James S. Coleman) 

Qass, Status and Power 1953 
(edited with Reinhard Bendix) 

Agrarian Socialism 1950 




Basic Books, INC. 

* New York 

This book is published as part of the program of 
the Research Group on Comparative Development of 
the Institutes of International Studies and of 
Industrial Relations at the University of 
California (Berkeley). 

1963 by Seymour Martin Lipset 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 63-17345 
Manufactured in the United States of America 
Designed by Sophie Adler 

To the memory of 


In a real sense, this book pursues two substantive themes with which 
I have been concerned in previous writings the problem of what was 
once known in the Marxist literature as "American exceptionalism" and 
the conditions for stable democracy. 

In undertaking the study of a successful socialist movement in a Ca- 
nadian province (Agrarian Socialism, 1950), I was initially interested in 
learning why Canada, seemingly so akin socially to the United States, was 
able to cast up a large socialist party when the United States could not. 
Many of the sociological explanations for the weakness of American so- 
cialism seemingly also applied to Canada. As the reader of The First New 
Nation will discover, sections of it still are concerned with the sources of 
structural variation between the two North American nations. The com- 
parative sections of Social Mobility in Industrial Society (1959, with 
Reinhard Bendix) were similarly stimulated by an effort to test the 
thesis that political class consciousness was weak in the United States 
because the United States had a much higher rate of mass mobility 
than European nations. The research which sought to specify the ex- 
tent of mass mobility (crossing the line between the manual work- 
ing class and the nonmanual middle class) concluded that there were not 
significant differences between rates of mobility, as judged by these crude 
indicators, between industrialized Europe and America. (It should be 
noted, however, because many readers have ignored the caveat, that this 
book never contended that variations do not exist in rates of elite mo- 
bility, particularly among those occupational strata which require high 
levels of education.) Since the evidence with respect to mass mobility 
did not sustain the hypothesis, Reinhard Bendix and I turned to an analysis 
of the factors in American social structure which sustained the impression 
that mobility was higher in America. My subsequent work on values and 
the American class system presented here represents an elaboration of this 
work which I began with Bendix, and I acknowledge my indebtedness 
to him for helping me formulate my ideas on the subject. 

My other two books, Union Democracy (1953, with Martin Trow and 

viii Preface 

James S. Coleman) and Political Man (1960), were addressed to analysis 
of the social conditions of stable democracy the first on the level of pri- 
vate governments, the latter dealing with nation-states. In the present 
volume, I deal with both themes, the historical sources and the specific 
nature of the American social system, and the varying ways in which 
stable democracies, viewed comparatively, may occur. The last-named 
issue, dealt with in Part III, is of particular importance, since it should 
be clear that I am not holding up the American polity as an exportable 
model for all efforts at democracy. It should rather be recognized that 
the character of democratic polities may vary greatly, depending on 
various elements in the social structure of nations with which the 
political institutions must mesh. I think it particularly noteworthy that 
the two major English-speaking democracies, sometimes thought of as 
having similar political systems, differ considerably from each other 
politically as well as socially. 

It is a foolish man who believes that he knows the sources of his 
ideas. I shall not pretend, therefore, to try to specify them here. In 
previous books, I have indicated some of those whom I regard as the 
most important influences on my intellectual development, and I will 
not repeat this discussion. I should indicate, however, that the general 
theoretical perspective and methodology of this book owes much to 
the classic work of Max Weber, who set standards for comparative and 
historical sociology which no one has even come close to emulating. 
With respect to the contents of this book, however, I think it appro- 
priate to point out that much of my thinking about the relations of 
values to behavior in American society has been heavily influenced by 
Robert Merton's noted essay, "Social Structure and Anomie," and that 
my efforts to locate the analysis of given societies in a comparative and 
historical context have borrowed heavily from the work of Talcott 
Parsons. On the methodological side, Karl Deutsch has shown the way 
for those who seek to fully incorporate comparative historical and 
social analysis into systematic social science. Both he and Parsons, who 
have worked together on these problems, have shown the value to 
scholarship of men who are not afraid to present new, incomplete, and 
untested approaches for the rest of social science to elaborate or reject. 
Significant innovators in any field must be prepared to learn that they 
have been in error; these are the risks inherent in opening new perspec- 
tives on old problems. 

Although a few parts of this book, particularly some of the materials 
in Part II, were initially written before the book was conceived as an 

Preface ix 

entity, work on the book as such began in 1960 during the year I spent 
at Yale University as the Ford Visiting Research Professor of Political 
Science and Sociology. I would like to express my deep gratitude to 
the Yale Department of Political Science and particularly to its then- 
chairman, Robert Dahl for the luxury of a year free from all university 
duties combined with the opportunity to exchange ideas with a stimulat- 
ing group of colleagues interested in many of the problems I was working 
on. On my return to Berkeley, the continuing research on this book was 
supported both financially and intellectually by the Training and Re- 
search Group on Comparative Development of the Institutes of In- 
dustrial Relations and International Studies of the University of Cali- 
fornia. This group operates with a grant of funds from the Carnegie 
Corporation. Composed of about ten men from the various social science 
departments, it is now chaired by Reinhard Bendix. I would like to thank 
the members of this group, particularly David Apter, David Landes, 
Franz Schurmann, and Neil Smelser, for detailed critical readings of 
sections of the book. In paying for various services which went into 
this work, I also made use of funds from a grant which I have from 
the Ford Foundation for the support of my "basic research." 

My efforts to analyze behavior comparatively would be impossible 
without the help of many friends abroad who have given freely of their 
time to act as "research assistants" gathering data and, more important, 
as consultants furnishing me with ideas on developments in their own 
countries. I hope that it will be understood that they are in no way 
responsible for my interpretation of behavior in their countries. Among 
those who have taught me much are Frank Underbill and S. D. Clark 
in Canada, Tom Truman and Ronald Taft in Australia, Mark Abrams 
and C. A. R. Crosland in the United Kingdom, Michel Crozier and 
Mattei Dogan in France, and Otto Stammer and Ralf Dahrendorf in 
Germany. I would also like to express my particular indebtedness to 
my friend Stein Rokkan, who, though based at the Christen Michelsens 
Institute in Bergen, Norway, is perhaps as deserving of the tide of 
European social scientist as anyone I know. 

Three graduate research assistants, Ruth Ann Pitts, Arthur Goldberg, 
and Gene Bernardi, contributed much to helping locate research data. 
Daniel Bell of Columbia University and Irving Kristol of Basic Books 
have given generously of their time and stock of ideas. I must par- 
ticularly thank the latter for his suggestion that I write a book about 
American society viewed comparatively. I should also like to acknowl- 
edge the generosity of William Nisbet Chambers, who let me see a pre- 

x Preface 

publication draft of his book, Political Parties in a New Nation (since 
published by Oxford University Press, 1963). Chambers and I discovered, 
after each of us had written a draft of our books, that we were working 
on similar topics defined in comparable terms. This discovery came in 
time for us to exchange manuscripts and to take account of each other's 

Some materials contained in this book have been presented on earlier 
occasions, either in print or at academic meetings. A summary of Part I 
was given as a paper at the Fifth World Congress of Sociology at Wash- 
ington in September, 1962, and is scheduled to be published in the Trans- 
actions of that congress. Much of Chapter 3 uses materials presented in 
my chapter of a book edited by Leo Lowenthal and myself, Culture 
and Social Character (The Free Press, 1961); a brief preliminary state- 
ment of some of my analysis of American religion was published in the 
Columbia University Forum in 1959; and a previous discussion of the 
relationship of the characteristics of the American trade-union move- 
ment to the value system appeared in Industrial Relations (I, 1961-1962). 

An early detailed analysis of the relationship of national values to the 
conditions for stable democracy, as presented in Part III, was given at a 
conference on "Internal War" sponsored by the Princeton University 
Center of International Studies in September, 1961. This version will 
appear in a volume of papers from that meeting which is being edited 
by Harry Eckstein and Klaus Knorr and will be published by The Free 
Press. A summary of the analysis of the value systems of the English- 
speaking democracies presented in the latter part of this book was given 
as the 1963 Maclver Award Lecture at the meetings of the Eastern 
Sociological Society in New York in April, 1963. This lecture was 
published in the August, 1963, issue of the American Sociological Re- 
view. An early version of one chapter of this book was written and 
published before the rest of it was outlined. This is Chapter 9, on party 
systems and representation, which appeared in the first issue of the 
European Journal of Sociology, in 1960. This paper was rewritten for 
inclusion here because it offers an example of comparative analysis bear- 
ing on problems discussed in the other chapters of Part III which employ 
variables other than the basic value system. 

As all authors well know, the final housekeeping details of finishing a 
book, the editing, the checking of quotations and footnotes, the re- 
typing of the completed manuscript, the reading and even revision of 
galleys can take a large proportion of the time necessary to complete a 

Preface xi 

book. That these stages went much more quickly and efficiently than 
anticipated I owe to the staff of the Institute of International Studies of 
the University of California, particularly to Mrs. Cleo Stoker, the 
administrative assistant who runs the shop* 

Institute of International Studies 
University of California, Berkeley 


Preface vii 

Introduction 1 



1. Establishing National Authority 15 

The Crisis of Legitimacy and the Role 

of the Charismatic Leader 16 

The Problem of National Unity 23 

Opposition Rights and the Establishment 

of New Polities 36 

The Need for "Payoff" 45 

2. Formulating a National Identity 61 

The Need for Autonomy and Neutrality 62 

The Role of the Intellectuals 66 

Revolution as the Source of National Identity 74 

Conclusion 90 



3. A Changing American Character? 101 

The Unchanging American Character 106 

The Unchanging American Values and Their Connec- 
tion with American Character 1 10 

The Indequacy of a Materialistic Interpretation of 

Change 122 

Conclusion 129 

xiy Contents 

4. Religion and American Values 140 

All-Pervasiveness, a Consistent Characteristic of Amer- 
ican Religion 141 

Secularity, a Persistent Trait of American Religion 151 

Voluntarism, the Source of Religious Strength 1 59 

5. Trade Unions and the American Value System 170 

Social Structure: the Source of American Unionism 173 

Societal Values and the Union Movement 1 78 

Societal Values and Union Leadership 187 

The American Political System and the Union Move- 

ment 196 

Other Equalitarian Societies: Canada and Australia 199 

Conclusion 203 




6. Values and Democratic Stability 207 

Value Patterns and a Democratic Polity 209 

The United States and Great Britain 2 1 3 

France and Germany 224 

Social Change and Political Stability 239 

7. Value Differences, Absolute or Relative: The English- 
Speaking Democracies 248 

Values and the Democratic Process 268 

8. Values, Social Character, and the Democratic Polity 274 

The Authoritarian versus the Democratic Personality 277 

The Inner-directed versus the Other-directed Per- 
sonality 281 

Contents xv 

9. Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 286 

Social Structure and the Character of the Party System 289 

Social Structure and Electoral Systems 293 

Party Systems and the Bases of Social Cleavage 295 

Consequences of the Different Systems 307 

Conclusion 312 

10. Epilogue: Some Personal Views on Equality, Inequality, 

and Comparative Social Science 318 

Inequality in America 321 

The Ever-Present Conflict between Equality and In- 
equality 340 

Comparative Analysis 343 

Name Index 349 

Subject Index 356 






There has been a quite extraordinary number of books published in 
recent years that seek to analyze American society. Among those most 
widely read and talked about have been the works of Vance Packard, 
especially The Status Seekers; The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills; 
The Organization Man by William H. Whyte; The Lonely Crowd by 
David Riesman; Image of America by R. L. Bruckberger; America as a 
Civilization by Max Lerner; and the Self-Conscious Society by Eric 
Larrabee. These and other works arrive at roughly two sorts of con- 

According to the first view, America suffers from elaborate cor- 
ruption in business and labor, and in law enforcement practices; from a 
growing concentration of business power; from the influences of mass 
media run by entertainment tycoons who satisfy the lowest common 
denominator in popular taste; and from a wasteful expenditure of 
resources directed to the enhancement of social status. 

According to the other view, America is an affluent, highly demo- 
cratic society in which the distribution of income, of status symbols, 
and of opportunities for social mobility is becoming more even-handed 
all the time; in which tolerance for differences in culture, religion, and 
race is growing; and in which demand for the best in art, literature, 
and music is increasing. 

This book tries, in part, to reconcile these two pictures. To look at 
America in a comparative and historical context is to point up the 
fact that such contrasts have distinguished American society through 
its history. The contrasts, moreover, are linked to two basic American 
values equality and achievement. These values, though related, are not 
entirely compatible; each has given rise to reactions which threaten the 

When I say that we value equality, I mean that we believe all persons 
must be given respect simply because they are human beings; we believe 
that the differences between high- and low-status people reflect ac- 
cidental, and perhaps temporary, variations in social relationships. This 

2 Introduction 

emphasis on equality was reflected in the introduction of universal suf- 
frage in America long before it came in other nations; in the fairly 
consistent and extensive support for a public school system so that all 
might have a common educational background; and in the pervasive 
antagonism to domination by any elite in culture, politics, or economics. 

The value we have attributed to achievement is a corollary to our 
belief in equality. For people to be equal, they need a chance to 
become equal. Success, therefore, should be attainable by all, no matter 
what the accidents of birth, class, or race. Achievement is a function 
of equality of opportunity. That this emphasis on achievement must lead 
to new inequalities of status and to the use of corrupt means to secure 
and maintain high position is the ever recreated and renewed American 

America's key values equality and achievement stem from our 
revolutionary origins. The United States was the first major colony 
successfully to revolt against colonial rule. In this sense, it was the first 
"new nation." For this reason, to see how, in the course of American 
history, its values took shape in institutions may help us to understand 
some of the problems faced by the new nations emerging today on the 
world scene. For the values which they must use to legitimate their 
political structure, and which thus become part of their political institu- 
tions, are also revolutionary. Thus in addition to explaining "what makes 
America tick," this book is designed to suggest how the sociologist's 
analysis of value systems can contribute to the systematic study of the 
development of a nation's institutions. 

I do not mean to suggest that the new nations will necessarily re- 
capitulate the American experience. Indeed, anxiety about the social 
conditions that foster stable, non-authoritarian political relations in the 
new nations of Asia and Africa has become a major preoccupation of 
statesmen and academicians alike in the post-war era. A new field of 
inquiry the study of development has emerged in economics, political 
science, and sociology. Most scholarship in this area has understandably 
devoted itself to a detailed examination of specific problems (e.g., eco- 
nomic growth) or of specific politico-geographical entities; however, I 
feel that a general analysis of the relation between a nation's values 
and its institutions can be of some utility. Studying fundamental 
processes rather than any specific disorder may actually be the shortest 
road to correct diagnosis and cure of a particular problem. (For example, 
study of the laws of blood chemistry may turn out to be more useful 

Introduction $ 

in the cure of mental illness than the development of ad hoc generali- 
zations based on psychotherapeutic efforts.) Therefore, the last section 
of this book attempts to examine by comparative analysis of nations at 
roughly similar levels of industrial development some of the relations 
between a nation's values and the evolution of a stable polity that are 
suggested by the American example. 

The three sections of this book deal with the role of values in a 
nation's evolution. However, each approaches this role from a dif- 
ferent perspective. The first section, using America's first decades as a 
point of departure, identifies some of the problems of new nations arising 
from a break in the continuity of political legitimacy, and analyzes^ some 
of the consequences of a revolutionary birth for the creation of a 
national character and style. The secqnd section traces how values 
derived from America's revolutionary origins have continued to influence 
the form and substance of American institutions in later years. The third 
section attempts to show by comparative analysis some ways through 
which a nation's values determine its political evolution. 

Because each section approaches the role of values from a different 
perspective, its procedure is different. The first compares early America 
with today's emerging nations to discover problems common to them 
as new nations. The second concentrates on American history in later 
periods: religious institutions and trade unions have been selected for 
discussion in this section because they are critical cases. The third 
compares political development in several modern industrialized democ- 
racies, including the United States. 

Talcott Parsons, perhaps the foremost contemporary exponent of the 
importance of value systems as causal factors, has explained and justi- 
fied their systematic use as explanatory variables in these terms: 

That a system of value-orientations held in common by the mem- 
bers of a social system can serve as the main point of reference for 
analyzing structure and process in the social system itself may be 
regarded as a major tenet of modern sociological theory. Values 
in this sense are the commitments of individual persons to pursue 
and support certain directions or types of action for the collectiv- 
ity as a system and hence derivatively for their own roles in the 
collectivity. Values are, for sociological purposes, deliberately 
defined at a level of generality higher than that of goals they are 
directions of action rather than specific objectives, the latter de- 
pending on the particular character of the situation in which the 

4 Introduction 

system is placed as well as on its values and its structure as a 
system. 1 

Karl Deutsch too has pointed to the social scientist's need for general 
variables to codify national experiences. He suggests that nations vary- 
in their "wills" (a concept close to "central value systems") as a result 
of differing historical experiences: 

Will . . . may be described as the set of constraints acquired from 
the memories and past experiences of the system, and applied to the 
selection and treatment of items in its later intake, recall, or decisions. 
Any self-steering system . . . requires some operating preferences. 2 

The emphasis on values in this book does not, of course, negate other 
approaches, but is intended merely to demonstrate that values are one 
imgortanJL2H ce ^ variation among social systems. 3 

Talcott Parsons himself disavows the notion that an emphasis on 
values implies a monistic approach to social analysis: 

1 Talcott Parsons, Structure and Process in Modern Societies (Glencoe, 111.: 
The Free Press, 1960), p. 172. 

2 Karl Deutsch, Nationalism and Social Communication (New York, John 
Wiley, 1953), p. 151. This book should be required reading for students of 

3 An excellent discussion of the general assumptions underlying the sociolog- 
ical analysis of the central value system of societies may be found in Edward 
Shils, "Centre and Periphery," in The Logic of fersonal Knowledge: Essays 
Presented to Michael Polanyi on His Seventieth Birthday (London: Roudedge 
& Kegan Paul, 1961), pp. 117-130. 

Although many political analysts have attempted to relate various aspects 
of the polities of different nations to specific structural components of the 
value system, no one as yet has formulated a general theory in this area. Per- 
haps the closest approximation to this may be found in Harry Eckstein, 
A Theory of Stable Democracy (Princeton University Center for Interna- 
tional Studies, 1961). Eckstein does not describe his approach as an effort to 
relate general values to political systems but rather writes of the need for 
"propositions relating governmental authority to other forms of social author- 
ity" (p. xiii). He tries to relate the stability of political systems to their 
congruence or lack of congruence with authority relations in non-political 
areas, e.g., family, school, religion, and so forth. Since authority relations are 
necessarily closely involved with the central value system, if they are not 
to be conceived as core components of that system, Eckstein is essentially 
engaged in what I would describe as value analysis. 

Introduction 5 

It should be clear that using values as the initial point of reference 
for the structural analysis of social systems does not imply that they 
are the sole or even the most important determinants of particular 
structures and processes in such systems. . . . Beliefs and values 
are actualized, partially and imperfectly, in realistic situations of 
social interaction, and the outcomes are always co-determined by the 
values and the realistic exigencies; conversely . . . "interests" are by 
no means independent of the values which have been institutionalized 
in the relevant groups. 4 

Interestingly enough, Friedrich Engels whose Marxist approach gen- 
erally underplays the independent significance of values recognized the 
force that values exert on political change. It may be worthwhile to cite 
a few of his descriptive comments on national polities: 

It seems a law of historical development that the bourgeoisie can in 
no European country get hold of political power at least for any 
length of time in the same exclusive way in which the feudal 
aristocracy kept hold of it during the Middle Ages. Even in France, 
where feudalism was completely extinguished, the bourgeoisie as a 
whole has held full possession of the Government for very short 
periods only. ... A durable reign of the bourgeoisie has been pos- 
sible only in countries like America, where feudalism was unknown, 
and society at the very beginning started from a bourgeois basis. . . . 

In England, the bourgeoisie never held undivided sway. . . . The 
English bourgeoisie are, up to the present day, so deeply penetrated 
by a sense of their social inferiority that they keep up, at their own 
expense and that of the nation, an ornamental caste of drones to rep- 
resent that nation worthily at all State functions; and they consider 
themselves highly honored whenever one of themselves is found 
worthy of admission into this select and privileged body 

Parliamentary government is a capital school for teaching respect 
for tradition; if the middle-class look with awe and veneration upon 
what Lord Manners playfully called "our old nobility," the mass of 
the working-people then looked up with respect and deference to 
what used to be designated as "their betters" the middle-class. . . . 5 

Furthermore, in accounting for the "rebellious" behavior of the French 
and German workers, as contrasted with the British, Engels (writing in 

4 Parsons, Structure and Process in Modern Societies, p. 173. 

5 Friedrich Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (Chicago: Charles H. 
Kerr and Co., 1912), pp. 37-43. 

6 Introduction 

1892) stressed the strength of specific values, not class relationships. To 
keep the masses in line, once they are aware of their political rights, one 
must rely on "moral means" And England was more stable than various 
continental societies because it had not broken with traditional religion. 
"Religion must be kept alive for the people that was the only and last 
means to save society from ruin. Unfortunately for themselves, they 
[the continental bourgeoisie] did not find this out until they had done 
their level best to break up religion forever." 6 

For Engels and other Marxists, of course, "juridical, philosophical, and 
religious ideas are the more or less remote offshoots of the economical re- 
lations prevailing in a given society." But these ideas account for varia- 
tions in societies having the same "economical relations." 7 Such statements, 
while clearly outside the formal Marxist framework of analysis, may be 
viewed as attempts to analyze systematically variations within major his- 
torical epochs and to go beyond the ad hoc descriptions of most Marxists, 

*Loc. cit. This is an area of considerable scholarly controversy. Elie 
Halevy in his classic History of the English People in the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury (London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1961), also refers to the evangelical revival 
in the eighteenth century to explain "the extraordinary stability which English 
society was destined to enjoy throughout a period of revolutions and crises" 
(Vol. 1, p. 387). However, his causal analysis was somewhat different from 
that of Engels. He pointed out that the evangelical sects were largely middle- 
class movements, that the working class was not directly involved. The Non- 
conformist churches "gave the middle class distinctive beliefs, a distinctive 
religious organization and a self-respect which respected without envying the 
aristocracy" (Vol. 4, p. 337). "But by becoming the religion of the middle 
classes it had separated the latter, not only the upper middle, but the lower 
and the lowest middle class, from the common people and had deprived the 
latter of the leaders they required to wage the war against the rich which 
they wanted to lead. Deprived of leaders, the populace fell back into a 
state of incoherence, demoralization, and at last apathy" (Vol. 4, p. 395). 
Reinhard Bendix, however, suggests that religious revivalism did contribute 
to reducing the radicalism of the English workers. See his Work and Author- 
ity in Industry (New York: John Wiley, 1956), pp. 60-73. Most recently 
the English Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawn has argued that religious 
revivalism among English workers in the nineteenth century did not affect 
their radicalism. See his* Social Bandits and Primitive Rebels (Glencoe, 111.: 
The Free Press, 1959), pp. 126-149; while Gustav Rimlinger, "The Legitima- 
tion of Protest: A Comparative Study in Labor History," Comparative Studies 
in Society and History, 2 (1960), pp. 329-343, has attempted to show that 
it did so contribute. 

7 Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, p. 43. (Emphasis mine.) 

Introduction j 

or indeed of most economists concerned with "non-economic" factors. 8 
The approach to value analysis in this book assumes a perspective 
taken by Max Weber. Much of contemporary sociology has neglected 
his insight in explaining differences in national systems by specifying 
key historical events which set one process in motion in one country 
and a second in another. He, in fact, used the analogy of loaded dice: 
once the dice came up with a certain number they would tend to come 
up with the same number again. 9 In other words, historical events 
establish values and predispositions, and these in turn determine later 
events. In this way values become determinants of the direction of social 
change. Following the logic of Weber's analysis of the genesis of 
capitalism, we may argue that the existence of certain values is a pre- 
requisite for some of the characteristics of contemporary America. 
Furthermore, these characteristics may become more pronounced as 
these values interact with material conditions. 

By emphasizing the role of values in political evolution I am attempting 
to connect studies of historical change with basic assumptions in contem- 
porary sociological theory. Seen in the light of Weber's methodology, the 
sociological emphasis on key values in a social system is an effort to re- 
late the operation of the system to elements rooted in its history. 10 Within 
these historical "givens," furthermore, a certain body of theoretical prop- 
ositions states what kind of system is operating, its relations with external 
systems, its internal relations, its tensions, its contradictions, and so on. 
Sometimes, if one utilizes a stable equilibrium model, one emphasizes the 
self-regulating and restorative mechanisms. For the purposes of this book, 
I have tried to think in terms of a dynamic (that is, moving or unstable) 
equilibrium model, which posits that a complex society is under constant 
pressure to adjust its institutions to its central value system, in order to 

8 Engels* emphasis on values may not be as "heretical" as it appears. Marx 
himself once stated, "We know that the institutions, manners and customs 
of the various countries must be considered, and we do not deny that there 
are countries, like England and America, . . . where the worker may attain 
his object by peaceful means." Quoted by Andrew Hacker, "Sociology and 
Ideology," in Max Black, ed., The Social Theories of Talcott Parsons (Engle- 
wood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall, 1961), p. 289. Hacker goes on to say that 
"It is remarks like this which turn scholarly heads gray." 

9 Max Weber, The Methodology of the Social Sciences (Glencoe, 111.: The 
Free Press, 1949), pp. 182-185. 

10 For an excellent discussion of the relationship between the concerns of 
historical and social science, see David M. Potter, People of Plenty (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1954), esp, pp. 3-72. 

8 Introduction 

alleviate strains created by changes in social relations; and which asserts 
that the failure to do so results in political disturbance. 

The attempt to generalize about the development of social systems in 
this way has been questioned by some sociologists, e.g., Barrington Moore, 
Jr., 11 C. Wright Mills, 12 and George Lichtheim. 13 Basically, these critics 
argue that all complex social systems must be analyzed primarily from a 
historical point of view. They feel that the analysis of the consequences 
of specific historical situations is a more adequate "explanation of the 
'system' " than is the effort to specify the interrelated functions served 
by the system and its parts at any given time. 

This criticism, that the efforts to formulate generalizations about sys- 
tems necessarily conflicts with the analysis of historical processes, is un- 
warranted. 14 The attack aimed at sociological theory for ignoring the 
Marxian "principle of historical specification" has been discussed by Lewis 
Feuer, a student of both scientific methodology and Marxian thought. Af- 
ter pointing out that Marx never used the expression, "the principle of 
historical specification" (which Mills attributed to him), Feuer goes on 
to state: 

There is, to my mind, a bit of obscurantism in "the principle of his- 
torical specification" which, at the present time, obstructs the advance 
of social science. The principle rightly warns us to specify clearly the 
variables in our sociological laws; do not, for instance, enunciate as 
a law for all economic systems what may be true only of a compet- 
itive capitalist one. The principle has its obvious counterpart in 
physics. Kepler's laws, for instance, are laws for the motions of plan- 
ets, not for masses in general. But Kepler's laws turned out to be 
special cases of the Newtonian Laws which did apply to all masses. 
And, in a similar sense, the laws of different societies might likewise 
be special cases of the operation of universal psychological and soci- 

11 Barrington Moore, Jr., "The New Scholasticism," World Politics, 6 (1953- 
54), pp. 122-138; also "Sociological Theory and Contemporary Politics," 
American Journal of Sociology, 61 (1954-55), pp. 107-115. See also his 
Political Power and Social Theory: Six Studies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard 
University Press, 1958). 

12 C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (New York: Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1958). 

18 George Lichtheim, Marxism (London: Allen and Unwin, 1962), pp. xiii- 


14 S. M. Lipset and Neil Smelser, "Change and Controversy in Recent 

American Sociology," The British Journal of Sociology, 12 (1961), pp. 



ological laws. To specify the historical structure would simply then 
be to state the social initial conditions which would bound the op- 
eration of the universal laws in the specific historical situation. We 
cannot indeed understand how one social system evolves into an- 
other without using some guiding kws of a common human nature; 
the revolt of men against their society's mores and values would be 
otherwise unintelligible. 16 

To be sure, since there are relatively few existing societies to compare, 
specific hypotheses about their evolution are less subject to verification 
than generalizations about, say, the development of individual persons, 
where many more cases can be compared. And because social systems are 
complex units, we must rely on historical case studies as our basic method 
for the study of national evolution. However, this does not rule out gen- 
eralization altogether. 16 The historical case study approach need not con- 
centrate solely on the unique. It can draw out generalizations that can ap- 
ply to all similar cases, and can test and elaborate general hypotheses. 
Thus there is no necessary clash between developing general sociological 
hypotheses and taking historical specificity into account. "Much may be 
gained by using analytical concepts to guide our historical inquiry, and by 
using the results of historical inquiry to modify our concepts regarding 
present day problems." 17 

The analyst of societies must choose between a primarily historical or 

15 Lewis Feuer, "A Symposium on C. Wright Mills's 'The Sociological 
Imagination/ " Berkeley Journal of Sociology (University of California, De- 
partment of Sociology), 5 (1959), pp. 122-123. 

16 Another criticism that has been leveled at the sociologist's attempt to 
generalize by comparing the histories of several nations is that he must 
inevitably rely extensively on secondary authorities, without going back to 
the original sources. T. H. Marshall, one of the deans of British sociology, 
has justified this practice: "Nothing is more unreliable than the first-hand 
account of an eye-witness, nor more liable to deceive than diaries and cor- 
respondence whose authors thoroughly enjoyed writing them. And even 
the accounts of treasurers cannot always be accepted as representing the 
final and absolute truth. It is the business of historians to sift this miscel- 
laneous collection of dubious authorities and to give to others the results of 
their careful professional assessment. And surely they will not rebuke the 
sociologist for putting faith in what historians write." Sociology at the 
Crossroads and Others Essays (London: Heinemann, 1963), pp. 36-37. 

17 Karl W. Deutsch, S. A. Burrell, R. A. Kann, M. Lee, Jr., M. Lichterman, 
R. E. Lindgren, F. L. Loewenheim, R. W. Van Wagenen, Political Community 
and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 
1957), p. 14. 

10 Introduction 

a primarily comparative approach for a given piece of research. He must 
choose simply because each of these requires a different mode of generali- 
zation. But even if he chooses one approach, he cannot ignore the other. 
Without examining social relations in different countries, it is impossible 
to know to what extent a given factor actually has the effect attributed to 
it in a single country. For example, if it is true that the German Stand- 
estaat (rigid status system) has contributed to the authoritarian pattern of 
German politics, why is it that similar status systems in Sweden and Swit- 
zerland are associated with very different political patterns? 

Such an example suggests thatj^mparisons may better enable the re- 
searcher to evaluate the effect of specific factors in the development of 
single national patterns. Three chapters in this book, " A Changing Amer- 
ican Character?" "Religion and American Values," and "Trade Unions 
and the American Value System," use comparative materials in this way. 

On the other hand, the analyst obviously cannot ignore specificJustor- 
ical events in attempting to assess what is common to the evolution of 
different nations. Chapter 6, "Values and Democratic Stability," attempts 
to show how the French and American revolutions have affected the value 
systems of these two countries so that they differ greatly from other 
countries with similar economic structures. And varying value systems, in 
turn, influence the political stability of the nations in question. "Party 
Systems and the Representation of Social Groups" (Chapter 9) shows 
even more clearly the necessity to focus on specific historical events in a 
comparative analysis, for the electoral systems in each of the countries 
described are themselves an important determinant of the degree to 
which the polities of the various countries are stable. 

In the end the choice between a primarily historical or a primarily 
comparative approach is a matter of relative emphasis. If the analyst 
stresses an historical approach, he must use comparative materials to 
show to what degree his findings are specific to the country he is study- 
ing. If he selects an essentially comparative approach, he should employ 
historical detail to show how specific social conditions affect the opera- 
tions of the general relationships he has discovered. 

A general theory of social development can scarcely be formulated 
from the analyses presented in this book. Much more evidence and con- 
ceptual clarification are necessary before any such theory is possible. 
However, comparisons between America's development and that of other 
nations may silhouette some of the problems involved, for instance, in 
establishing a new nation. Consider the following: 

One of the necessary conditions for a stable democratic polity is a clear 

Introduction 1 1 

distinction between the source of sovereignty and the agent&/.f authority. 
In a nation which has broken sharply with the traditional sources of le- 
gitimacy, the dominant political ideologies are the products of a revolu- 
tionary mood, and hence are most often populist: they emphasize that 
sovereignty comes from the people. They will therefore also be tempted 
to emphasize that authority should be exercised by the people which is 
almost never feasible. A populist source of the values which legitimate the 
authority structure is inherently unstable because in its purist sense it 
would promise the citizenry more direct control over the government 
than it could possibly have. 

In democracies, the rights of the minority must be respected. Populism 
has a tendency to deny these rights, to assume that those whose values do 
not agree with the basic consensus of the society should be driven out. 
The populist source of the values which legitimate authority in post- 
revolutionary societies must be supplemented with a respect for the rule 
of law if a stable democracy is to result. But where the law lacks the sup- 
port of old traditions, the institutionalization of a respect for the rule of 
law is difficult. The Founding Fathers consciously sought to inhibit such 
excesses by creating a system of constitutional checks and balances. Amer- 
ica is particularly fortunate in that its long history of effective govern- 
ment and national growth has had the effect of legitimating constitutional 
government and, consequently, of making appeals to the people over the 
law increasingly less effective. In France today the rule of law has not 
been institutionalized to nearly the same degree, and populism remains 
as the principal source of, and threat to, the legitimacy that is granted 
agents of authority. 

Only if we recognize that in the United States the difficulties encoun- 
tered in making a distinction between the authority to establish govern- 
ment and the authority to govern almost resulted in a failure to create a 
nation, can we appreciate the tremendous problems faced by con- 
temporary post-revolutionary societies with much more complicated 
and less advantageous conditions than ours. Clearly, the odds are against 
democracy in the new states of Africa and Asia. Many experts on these 
countries suggest that democracy may be a Utopian short-term objective 
for such nations. Instead of speaking generally about democracy, it may 
be advisable to focus on the conditions which protect personal liberty, 
that is, on due process and the rule of law. Perhaps we should ask, as we 
look at new countries: under what circumstances is a post-revolutionary 
regime, or the government of a new state, compatible with the rule 
of law? 




PART I *************************************** 






The United States may properly claim the tide of the first new nation. 
It was the first major colony successfully to break away from colonial 
rule through revolution. It was, of course, followed within a few decades 
by most of the Spanish colonies in Central and South America. But while 
the United States exemplifies a new nation which successfully developed 
an industrial economy, a relatively integrated social structure (the race 
issue apart) and a stable democratic polity, most of the nations of Latin 
America do not. They remain underdeveloped economically, divided in- 
ternally along racial, class, and (in some cases) linguistic lines, and have 
unstable polities, whether democratic or dictatorial. So perhaps the first 
new nation can contribute more than money to the latter-day ones; per- 
haps its development can give us some clues as to how revolutionary 
equalitarian and populist values may eventually become incorporated into 
a stable nonauthoritarian polity. 

In this section I will examine the early period of America's history as 
a new nation, in an effort to elucidate through comparative analysis some 
of the problems and some of the developmental processes that are com- 
mon to all new nations. And in so doing, I will also highlight some of the 
circumstances that were unique to American development, some of the 
conditions that made young America a particularly auspicious place to 
develop democratic institutions. 

There is a tendency for older nations to view with impatience the 
internal turmoil of new ones, and to become especially alarmed at the 

16 America as a New Nation 

way oligarchical-dictatorial and revolutionary forces shake their tenu- 
ous foundations. Coupled with this is a tendency to expect them to 
accomplish in a decade what other nations have taken a century or more 
to do. A backward glance into our own past should destroy the notion 
that the United States proceeded easily toward the establishment of demo- 
cratic political institutions. In the period which saw the establishment of 
political legitimacy and party government, it was touch and go whether 
the complex balance of forces would swing in the direction of a one- or 
two-party system, or even whether the nation would survive as an 
entity. It took time to institutionalize values, beliefs, and practices, and 
there were many incidents that revealed how fragile the commitments 
to democracy and nationhood really were. 

But it was from this crucible of confusion and conflict that values and 
goals became defined, issues carved out, positions taken, in short an 
identity established. For countries, like people, are not handed identities 
at birth, but acquire them through the arduous process of "growing up," 
a process which is a notoriously painful affair. 

Let us now turn to a more detailed examination of some of the 
specific problems common to new nations. 

The Crisis of Legitimacy and the Role of the Charismatic 

A basic problem faced by all new nations and post-revolutionary 
societies is the crisis of legitimacy. The old order has been abolished and 
with it the set of beliefs that justified its system of authority. The 
imperialist ogre upon whom all ills were blamed has now disappeared, and 
there has been a slackening of the great unifying force, nationalism, under 
whose banner private, ethnic, sectional, and other differences were 
submerged. The new system is in the process of being formed and so the 
questions arise: To whom is loyalty owed? And why? 

Legitimacy of any kind is derived from shared beliefs, that is, from 
a consensus as to what constitutes proper allegiance. Such a consensus 
develops slowly. In the words of Ernest Renan in a lecture in 1882: 
"To have done great things together in the past, to wish to do more 
of them, these are the essential conditions for being a people. . . . The 
existence of a nation is a daily plebiscite." 1 In the early period of a 

1 Quoted in Frank H. Underbill, "A United Nation Is Not Enough," The 
Globe Magazine, March 24, 1962, p. 5. For a more detailed discussion of the 
relationship of legitimacy to democracy see S. M. Lipset, Political Man: The 
Social Bases of Politics (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960), pp. 77-90. 

Establishing National Authority 17 

nation's history, the results of this plebiscite are never a foregone 

According to Max Weber, there are basically three ways in which an 
authority may gain legitimacy, that is, an accepted "tide to rule": 

(1) It may gain legitimacy through tradition^ through "always" 
having possessed it the title held by monarchical societies is essentially 
of this type. 

(2) Rational-legal authority exists when those in power are obeyed 
because of a popular acceptance of the appropriateness of the system of 
rules under which they have won and hold office. 

(3) Charismatic authority rests upon faith in a leader who is believed 
to be endowed with great personal worth: this may come from God, as 
in the case of a religious prophet, or may simply arise from the display 
of extraordinary talents. 

Old states possess traditional legitimacy, and this need not concern 
us further, beyond suggesting that new nations may sometimes be in a 
position to enhance their own legitimacy by incorporating the already 
existing legitimacy of subordinate centers or persons of authority. Thus, 
new nations which retain local rulers for example dukes, counts, chiefs, 
clan heads, etc. and create a larger national system of authority based 
on them, may be more stable than those which seek to destroy such local 
centers of authority. It can be argued that the case of Europe's most 
stable republican government, Switzerland, is to be explained as a 
consequence of the preservation of cantonal government and power, i.e., 
as an extension of cantonal legitimacy. Contemporary Malaya is a recent 
example of an effort to foster national legitimacy by retaining traditional 
symbols of local rule. 2 

But where traditional legitimacy is absent, as it was in post-revolution- 
ary America or France and in much of contemporary Asia and Africa, it 
can be developed only through reliance on legal and/or charismatic 

Legal domination, resting on the assumption that the created legal 
structure is an effective means of attaining group ends, is necessarily a 
weak source of authority in societies in which the law has been 
identified with the interests of an imperial exploiter. Charismatic au- 

2 A crisis of legitimacy may occur even when the traditional forms of rule 
are maintained, if the authority figures are subordinated to alien rulers. 
Beaumont noted this problem among Indian tribes during his visit to America 
with Tocqueville in the early 1830's. Gustave de Beaumont, Marie, or 
Slavery in the United States (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 
1958), especially p. 241. 

18 America as a New Nation 

thority, on the other hand, is well suited to the needs of newly developing 
nations. It requires neither time nor a rational set of rules, and is highly- 
flexible. A charismatic leader plays several roles. He is first of all the 
symbol of the new nation, its hero who embodies in his person its values 
and aspirations. But more than merely symbolizing the new nation, he 
legitimizes the state, the new secular government, by endowing it with 
his "gift of grace." David Apter has shown how the government of 
Ghana gained diffuse legitimacy from the charisma of Nkrumah. 3 
Charismatic authority can be seen as a mechanism of transition, an 
interim measure, which gets people to observe the requirements of the 
nation out of affection for the leader until they eventually learn to do 
it out of loyalty to the collectivity. 4 

Charismatic leadership, however, because it is so personalized, is 
extremely unstable. The source of authority is not something distinct 
from the various actions and agencies of authority, so that particular 
dissatisfaction can easily become generalized disaffection. The charis- 
matic leader must therefore either make open criticism impermissible or 
he must transcend partisan conflict by playing the role of a constitutional 
monarch. Even where opposition to specific policies on an individual or 
informal factional basis may be tolerated, there cannot be an Op- 
position to him that is organized into a formal party with its own 
leader. But the difference between these options can have fateful con- 
sequences for the entire nation. 

The early American Republic, like many of the new nations, was 
legitimized by charisma. We tend to forget today that, in his time, 
George Washington was idolized as much as many of the contemporary 
leaders of new states. As Marcus Cunliffe, the English author of a bril- 
liant biography of the first President, points out: 

In the well-worn phrase of Henry Lee, he was first in war, first in 
peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen. ... He was the 
prime native hero, a necessary creation for a new country. . . . 
Hence . . . the comment . . . made by the European traveler Paul 
Svinin, as early as 1815: "Every American considers it his sacred 
duty to have a likeness of Washington in his home, just as we have 
the images of God's saints." For America, he was originator and 
vindicator, both patron saint and defender of the faith, in a 

8 David Apter, The Gold Coast in Transition (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton 
University Press, 1955), p. 303. 

4 See Edward Shils, "The Concentration and Dispersion of Charisma," World 
Politics, 11 (1958), pp. 2-3; and Immanuel Wallerstein, Africa, Politics of 
Independence (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), pp. 85-102. 

Establishing National Authority 19 

curiously timeless fashion, as if he were Charlemagne, Saint Joan and 
Napoleon Bonaparte telescoped into one person. . . , 5 


[T]he dying Roman emperor Vespasian is supposed to have mur- 
mured: "Alas, I think I am about to become a god." . . . George 
Washington . . . might with justice have thought the same thing 
as he lay on his deathbed at Mount Vernon in 1799. Babies were 
being christened after him as early as 1775, and while he was still 
President, his countrymen paid to see him in waxwork effigy. To 
his admirers he was "godlike Washington," and his detractors 
complained to one another that he was looked upon as a "demi- 
god" whom it was treasonable to criticize. "O Washington!" 
declared Ezra Stiles of Yale (in a sermon of 1783). "How I do love 
thy name! How have I often adored and blessed thy God, for 
creating and forming thee the great ornament of human kind!" . . . 

His contemporaries vied in their tributes all intended to express 
the idea that there was something superhuman about George 
Washington. . . . 

Some of his countrymen notably John Adams were a little 
irked by the Washington cult. They felt that adulation had gone too 
far as in the suggestion that God had denied Washington children 
of his own so that he might assume paternity for the whole nation. 
But even Adams was prepared to defend Washington as a native 
product against all challengers from other lands, with the proviso 
that Washington's virtues were America's virtues, rather than vice 
versa. 6 

5 Marcus Cunliffe, George Washington, Man and Monument (New York: 
Mentor Books, 1960), pp. 20-21. "A legendary figure from the Revolution 
on, Washington reached the final stages of his apotheosis with the adoption 
of the Constitution and the establishment of die new government. . . . 
Sedgwick wrote . . . 'Today I dined with the President and as usual the 
company was as grave as at a funeral. All the time at table the silence more 
nearly resembled the gravity of ... worship than the cheerfulness of convivial 
meeting' ... [I]f the operations of the government had reflected the atmos- 
phere which surrounded Washington, monarchy would have been only a litde 
way ahead." Joseph Charles, The Origiw of the American Party System (New 
York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961), pp. 38-39. 

8 CunlifFe, George Washington, pp. 15-16, 22. "In America ... do not look 
... for monuments raised to the memory of illustrious men. I know that 
this people has its heroes: but no where have I seen their statues. To Wash- 
ington done are there busts, inscriptions, column; this is because Washington, 
in America, is not a man but a God' 9 Beaumont, Marie, p. 106. 

20 America as a New Nation 

Washington's role as the charismatic leader under whose guidance 
democratic political institutions could grow was not an unwitting one: 

America's primary requirement, as he saw it, was confidence. 
Crescit eundo She grows as she goes could well have been the 
Union's official motto. In the words of his Farewell Address, "time 
and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of govern- 
ment as of other human institutions. . . . 

"With me ... a predominant motive has been, to endeavor to 
gain time for our country to settle and mature its yet recent institu- 
tions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of 
strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly 
speaking, the command of its own fortunes." 7 

Like latter-day leaders of new states, Washington was under pressure 
from those close to him actually to become an autocrat. However, he 
recognized that his most important contribution to the new state was 
to give it time to establish what we now call a rational-legal system of 
authority, a government of men under law. He permitted the members 
of his cabinet to form hostile factions under the leadership of Hamilton 
and Jefferson, even though he personally disliked the views of Jef- 
fersonians. 8 Before leaving office in 1797, he brought together Hamilton 
and Madison (leader of the Jeffersonians) to prepare drafts for his 
Farewell Address, And in the final sentence of the address he expressed 
the hope that his words "may be productive of some partial benefit, 
some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the 
fury of party spirit." 9 

Washington wished to retire after one term in office, but the conflict 
between his two principal collaborators would not permit it. And on the 
urging of many, including Hamilton and Jefferson, he agreed to serve 
another term thereby unwittingly permitting the further peaceful 
extension of party conflict while he was still President, though, of 

7 Cunliffe, George Washington, pp. 136, 149-150. 

8 By commanding the respect of both factional leaders he was able to act as a 
unifying symbol. "Both Hamilton and Jefferson respected the President and 
believed they were loyal to him and to their different ideas of the Union. In 
his presence they did not squabble. Their grievances were at one another, 
not at Washington. ... If Washington was a somewhat remote figure ... he 
was not a fool or a weakling." Ibid., p. 141. 

9 Ibid., p. 147. 

Establishing National Authority 2 1 

course, he bitterly regretted the emergence of such parties. This turned 
out to be a crucial decision, since during his second administration, the 
country was torn apart by opposing opinions of the French Revolution, 
and between pro-British and pro-French sentiments, 10 

There seems little question that Washington charis- 
matic leader. But his refusal to take full advantage of his potential 
charisma he withdrew from the presidency while seemingly in good 
health doubtless pushed the society faster toward a legal-rational system 
of authority than would have been the case had he taken over the charis- 
matic role in toto and identified himself with the laws and the spirit of 
the nation. This particular halfway type of charismatic leadership had a 
critical stabilizing effect on the society's evolution. Of particular impor- 
tance in this regard is the fact that the first succession conflict between 
John Adams and Jefferson took place while Washington still held office, 
enabling him to set a precedent as the first head of a modern state to 
turn over office to a duly elected successor. If he had continued in office 
until his death, it is quite possible that subsequent presidential succes- 
sions would not have occurred so easily. 

The charismatic aspects of Washington's appeal were consciously used 
by political leaders as a means of assuring the identity of the young 
nation. In 1800, shortly after Washington's death, the then British 
Ambassador to the United States analyzed the functions of tributes to 
Washington in a report to the Foreign Office: 

The leading men in the United States appear to be of the opinion 
that these ceremonies tend to elevate the spirit of the people, and 
contribute to the formation of a national character, which they 
consider as much wanting in this country. And assuredly, if self- 
opinion is (as perhaps it is) an essential ingredient in that character 
which promotes the prosperity and dignity of a nation, the Ameri- 
cans will be the gainers by the periodical recital of the feats of their 
Revolutionary War, and the repetition of the praises of Washington. 
The hyperbolical amplifications, the Panegyricks in question have 
an evident effect especially among the younger part of the com- 

10 The Hamiltonian Federalists, on the whole, viewed the terror of the 
French Revolution with horror and were pro-British; the Jeffersonian Re- 
publicans, as they were to be called, were pro-Revolutionary and pro- 
French. During this second term, also, Washington became increasingly a 
partisan of Federalist politics, and was attacked by various Republican papers 
and speakers, although usually in mild terms. 

22 America as a New Nation 

munity, in fomenting the growth of that vanity, which to the 
feelings of a stranger had already arrived at a sufficient height. 11 

The "near-apotheosis" of Washington characterized almost all that was 
written and said about him for the first few generations of the new 
nation. As Cunliffe points out: 

Washington, up to about the Civil War, was so venerated that no 
biographer would dream of criticizing him. On the contrary, 
biographers vied in finding new ways of praising him. "He was as 
fortunate as great and good," said Aaron Bancroft. For Peleg 
Sprague, Washington was "The Patriot Hero of our Revolution, 
the Christian Statesman of our Republic, great in goodness, and good 
in greatness." Edward Everett did not hesitate to pronounce Wash- 
ington, "of all men that ever lived, THE GREATEST OF GOOD 


public demanded to be told of a Washington who was a "human 
angil" spotless, pious, dauntless. 12 

The importance of Washington's role for the institutionalization of 
legal-rational authority in the early United States can be summarized as 

1. His prestige was so great that he commanded the loyalty of the 
leaders of the different factions as well as the general populace. Thus, 
in a political entity marked by much cleavage he, in his own person, 
provided a basis for unity. 

2. He was strongly committed to the principles of constitutional 
government and exercised a paternal guidance upon those involved in 
developing the machinery of government. 

11 Quoted in Charles, The Origins of the American Party System, p. 52. 
(Emphasis in original.) Writing in the 1830 y s, the English liberal Harriet 
Martineau described Washington's halo in terms similar to those of Beau- 
mont, cited earlier: "Washington's influence is a topic which no one is ever 
hardy enough to approach, in way of measurement or specification. Within 
the compass of his name lies more than other words can tell of his power 
over men. It is Washington, the man, not the President, whose name is 
lovingly spoken, whose picture smiles benignly in every inhabited nook of 
his congregation of republics. It is even Washington, the man, not the Presi- 
dent, whose name is sacred above all others, to men of all political parties." 
Harriet Martineau, Society in America (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday 
Anchor Books, 1962), p. 82. 

12 Marcus Cunliffe, Introduction to Mason L. Weems, The Life of Wash- 
ington (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 
1962), pp. xliv-xlv. 

Establishing National Authority 23 

3. He stayed in power long enough to permit the crystallization of 
factions into embryonic parties. 

4. He set a precedent as to how the- problem of succession should be 
managed, by voluntarily retiring from office. 

In most new nations the charismatic leader has tended to fulfill only 
the first of these tasks, acting as a symbol which represents and prolongs 
the feeling of unity developed prior to the achievement of independence. 13 
The neglect of the other three important aspects of Washington's role 
results in "charismatic personalities . . . [who do] not ordinarily build . . . 
the institutions which are indispensable for carrying on the life of a 
political society" 14 personalities whose disappearance raises again, as 
did the achievement of independence, the difficult problem of maintaining 
national unity among a conglomeration of groups and interests. 

The Problem of National Unity 

One of the problems shared by all new nations is that of creating a 
feeling of national unity among diverse elements. "The parochialism of the 
constituent segments of the societies of the new states has been com- 
monly observed. The sense of membership in the nation, which is more 
or less coterminous with the population residing within the boundaries 
of the new states, is still very rudimentary and very frail." 15 This tendency 
toward parochialism is common because the boundaries of new national 
communities are artificial, in the sense that they follow those "estab- 
lished by the imperial power rather than those coincident with pre- 
colonial socio-political groups." 16 Myron Weiner suggests the urgency 

13 "Whereas a seemingly cohesive national force pressed the imperial power 
for concessions, a grant of independence or self-government will bring 
separatist forces into the open. The integrative energies generated by the 
struggle for independence cannot be depended upon to survive after in- 
dependence is won." Donald S. Rothchild, Toward Unity in Africa (Wash- 
ington: Public Affairs Press, 1960), p. 2. 

14 Edward Shils, "Political Development in the New States," Comparative 
Studies in Society and History, 2 (1960), p. 288. 

1B /i, p. 283. 

16 James S. Coleman, "Nationalism in Tropical Africa," in John H. Kautsky, 
ed., Political Change in Underdeveloped Countries (New York: John Wiley, 
1962), p. 189. "Little attention was paid in the original partition of Africa or 
in its re-partition after the First World War to effective social groupings; so 
that people who had traditionally enjoyed a certain coherence found diem- 
selves divided between the territories of different colonial powers. The 
Somalis, divided between British, French and Italian Somaliland, as well as 
Ethiopia are a classic example; but the Ewes, distributed over the Gold Coast 

24 America as a New Nation 

of this issue when he reports with specific reference to South Ask that 
"the maintenance of national unity in the countries of South Asia is 
perhaps their most severe political problem." 17 In Africa too the "issues 
and problems of national unification are at the center of politics in the 
new and emergent societies." 18 A recent study by a group of scholars 
at MIT suggests that in order to create genuine stable new nations, "the 
firstjgrerequisite is a sense of national unity, a political consensus. . . ." 
They go on to urge that "the issues of national unity represent basic 
constitutional problems. Only as they are resolved can a society develop 
its policy and create the means for grappling with social and economic 
problems of modernization." 19 

The problems of national unity and consensus alluded to by the various 
writers cited above are clearly more complex than those faced by the 
United States when it broke with Britain. Many African and Asian 
states are the home of numerous linguistic groups and tribal units, several 
of which have histories of bitter antagonism to each other. 20 India has 
been unable to resist demands that its internal state boundaries be drawn 
along linguistic lines, a development which can place severe strains on 

and British and French Togoland and the Bacongo, split by the frontiers of 
French Moyen-Congo, the Belgian Congo and Portuguese Angola, are in a 
comparable situation. In these and other cases, nationalisms aiming at reuniting 
peoples whom European colonization divided have begun to assert themselves, 
making die pattern of African nationalism more complicated. . . . For the 
moment, the difficulties in the way of preserving unity in multi-national, 
multi-religious Nigeria seem considerable." Thomas Hodgkin, Nationalism in 
Colonial Africa (New York: New York University Press, 1957), pp. 22-23. 

17 Myron Weiner, "The Politics of South Asia," in Gabriel Almond and 
James S. Coleman, eds., The Politics of Developing Areas (Princeton, N.J.: 
Princeton University Press, 1960), p. 239. 

18 Coleman, "Nationalism in Tropical Africa," op. cit., p. 367. 

19 Max F. Millikan and Donald L. M. Backmer, eds., The Emerging Nations 
(Boston: Litde, Brown, 1961), pp. 76-78. 

20 [T]here is no such thing as a single Indian or Indonesian language. Some 
ten or twelve major languages and hundreds of minor tongues and local 
dialects are spoken in India. Some thirty languages are spoken in the Republic 
of Indonesia. . . . [I]n Nigeria a population of approximately 34,000,000 speaks 
roughly 250 different languages, a situation that is not unusual in much of 
Africa and among the tribes in the interior of Southeast Asia and Latin 
America. In Australian-ruled Papua and New Guinea , . . 1,750,000 natives 
speak 500 different languages and dialects, no one language being used by 
more than 50,000 and some by only 300." John H. Kautsky (ed.), Introduction 
to Political Change in Underdeveloped Countries (New York: John Wiley, 
1962), p. 34. 

Establishing National Authority 25 

its ultimate national unity. 21 Pakistan is divided into two sections, which 
differ in language and in level of economic development. Indonesia has 
faced the difficulty of resolving differences between the Javanese and 
those living in the outer islands, as well as ethnic and religious cleavages. 
Burma has had at least five different separatist movements struggling for 
autonomy or independence. The West Indian Federation, in spite of a 
common language, has broken up. The various efforts to create a 
federated structure out of the successor states of the French African 
Empire have failed. This has been true also with respect to attempts to 
unite any two or more of the Arab nations. And the tragic story of the 
Congo presents the most extreme example of the difficulties inherent in 
winning the loyalty of areas and groups with diverse cultures and 
histories to a new political authority. 22 

Early American history presented similar problems and reactions. True, 
its Western European heritage "established certain common traditions in 
advance, facilitating the task of harmonizing differences of language, 
culture, religion, and politics." 28 Nevertheless, "throughout the colonial 
period, Americans had tended to assume that these differences of lan- 
guage, culture, and religion would prevent the growth of a common 
loyalty." 24 " -- 

Karl Deutsch and his associates point out that one of the essential 

21 For an analysis of the relationship between variations in knowledge of 
different languages and the statistical chances for the triumph of any single 
language as the national one, see Karl Deutsch, Nationalism and Social 
Communication (New York: John Wiley, 1953), especially pp. 97-126, 

22 ". . . [Nationalism becomes an infection radiating from the larger group 
to ethnic, religious, or racial subgroups, each in turn claiming for itself the 
prerogatives of national self-determination which the larger entity achieved. 
The division of British India along religious lines into die Indian Republic 
and Pakistan is one such example; and tie 'chain reaction* of local national- 
isms, largely based on linguistic identities, has continued to plague the Indian 
Republic to a marked degree ever since independence was attained in 1947. 
Similar developments can be found in other parts of newly independent 
Asian and African states. But it is still too early to know whether national 
integration will ultimately prevail over local or racial separation as has 
been the case in this country, England, and France or whether large parts 
of the non-Western world will suffer the fate of internal 'Balkanization' in 
the years to come." Harry J. Benda, "Revolution and Nationalism in the 
Non-Western World," in Warren S. Hunsberger, ed., New Era in the Non- 
Western World (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1957), pp. 42-43. 

23 Rothchild, Toward Unity in Africa, p. 6. 

24 Maldwyn Allen Jones, American Immigration (Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1960), p. 40. 

26 America as a New Nation 

conditions for the amalgamation of small political units into a larger 
one is the growth of "compatibility of the main values held by the 
politically relevant strata of all participating units." They observe that 
similarities in the values current in the colonies underwent "accelerated 
change and development in the course of the American Revolution and 
its aftermath." 26 Aiid Maldwyn Jones points out: 

During the Revolutionary era the need to stress national unity some- 
times induced Americans to become forgetful of their diverse ethnic 
origins and to overlook the persistence of cultural differences. Par- 
ticularly was this so among men who were anxious that the young 
republic should not be fatally weakened by a denial of adequate 
powers to the federal government. Thus it was, that, in the Fed- 
eralist Papers, John Jay was moved to congratulate his countrymen 
on the fact that "Providence [had] been pleased to give this one 
connected country to one united people a people descended from 
the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the 
same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very 
similar in their manners and customs. . . ." 26 

One of the processes by which the integration of political units often 
proceeds is by the decline of "party divisions which reinforce the 
boundaries between political units eligible for amalgamation, and the rise 
in their stead of party divisions cutting across them." 27 Early America 
possessed social bases for political cleavage which cut across the estab- 
lished political units, the states. After the revolution, equalitarian pres- 
sures albeit in different forms grew up in most states. In many of 
them, demands emerged for broader voting rights and for greater 
representation in the legislatures of rural and western counties. These 
cleavages provided the basis for trans-state parties. 

However, before parties based upon these cleavages could play a 
role in unifying portions of the polity across state lines, interest groups 
in the different states had to learn to see beyond the particular issues 
with which they were concerned. They had to recognize that they had 
something in common with other groups advocating different forms of 

25 Karl W. Deutsch, S. A. Burrell, R A. Kann, M. Lee, Jr., M. Lichterman, 
R. E. Lindgren, F. A. L. Loewenheim, R. W. Van Wagenen, Political Com- 
rnunhy and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University 
Press, 1957), p. 4& 

26 Jones, American iTjrnrigration, p. 39. 

27 Deutsch et aL, Political Community and the North Atlantic Area, p. 76. 

Establishing National Authority 2 7 

Many individuals resisted being herded; states and state leaders 
stressed their special identities and interests; and heterogeneities 
from regionalism to economic variety to religion, tossed up a multi- 
plicity of opinions and interests. Although this very individualism 
and pluralism were eventually to stimulate the resort to party co- 
ordination, it was no easy matter to harness them at the onset. 28 

Above all, a political arena in which the individual rather than the state 
was the political unit had to be created. Nevertheless, in spite of working 
and fighting together in a seven-year struggle for independence, the best 
governmental structure which the Americans could devise was a loose 
federal union under the Articles of Confederation. This union lacked 
any national executive and, in effect, preserved most of the sovereignty 
and autonomy of each state. 29 

The pressure to establish a unified central authority in contemporary 
new states comes mainly from the nationalist intellectual elite who are 
concerned with creating an important arena of effective operation 
through which the new nation, and they, can demonstrate competence. 
The main instrument for such action has been the revolutionary party. 

After 1783, a national party that unified interests across state lines was 
approximated by 

the advocates of central authority, who set up the plans for a 
convention on federal authority, to be held in Philadelphia. ... A 
small group of political leaders with a Continental vision and 
essentially a consciousness of the United States' international im- 
potence, provided the matrix of the movement. . . . Indeed, an 
argument with great force particularly since Washington was its 
incarnation urged that our very survival in the Hobbesian jungle 
of world politics depended upon a reordering and strengthening of 
our national sovereignty. 30 

28 William N. Chambers, Parties in a New Nation (New York: Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1963), pp. 24-25. 

29 "The great and radical vice in the construction of the existing Con- 
federation/ warned Alexander Hamilton, 4 is in the principle of LEGISLA- 
COLLECTIVE CAPACITIES, and as contradistinguished from the IN- 
DIVIDUALS of which they consist.' He maintained that such a relationship 
divested the central government of sufficient energies with which to carry 
out its obligations under the Articles of Confederation. The result was a 
central government subordinate to and dependent upon regional compliance." 
Rothchild, Toward Unity in Africa, p. 5. 

30 John P. Roche, "The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Actiony" 
The American Political Science Review, 60 (1961), p. 801. (Emphasis in the 

28 America as a New Nation 

Many of those who served as delegates in what became the Con- 
stitutional Convention had served in the Revolutionary Continental 
Congress. This experience "left a deep imprint on those connected with 
it ... [since it had been] a continental war effort. If there is any one 
feature that most unites the future leading supporters of the Constitution, 
it was their close engagement with this continental aspect of the Revo- 
lution. . . ." 31 

All of them had been united in an experience, and had formed 
commitments, which dissolved provincial boundaries; they had 
come to full public maturity in a setting which enabled ambition, 
public service, leadership, and self-fulfillment to be conceived for 
each in his way, with a grandeur of scope unknown to any previous 
generation. 82 

The future of this generation's careers was 

staked upon the national quality of the experience which had 
formed them. In a number of outstanding cases energy, initiative, 
talent, and ambition had combined with a conception of affairs 
which had grown immense in scope and promise by the close of the 
Revolution. There is every reason to think that a contraction of this 
scope, in the years that immediately followed, operated as a power- 
ful challenge. 83 

John P. Roche has argued that there was no ideological rift within 
the Constitutional Convention because almost all the delegates belonged 
to the central government party. He suggests that the differences of 
opinion which did emerge )ere-$pscific or tactical rather than ideologi- 
.cal That is, there was no conflict between "nationalists" versus "states- 
rightists" but rather an argument over representation, the small states 
versus the big states. "The Virginia Plan [which] envisioned a unitary 
national government effectively freed from and dominant over the 
states . . . may ... be considered, in ideological terms, as the delegates' 

31 "A remarkably large number of these someday [advocates of a strong central 
government] . . . were in the Continental Army, served as diplomats or 
key administrative officers of the Confederation government, or, as members 
of Congress, played leading roles on those committees primarily responsible 
for the conduct of the war." Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, "The Found- 
ing Fathers: Young Men of the Revolution/' Political Science Quarterly, 76 
(1961), p. 202. 

32 Ibid., p. 203. 

33 Ibid., pp. 205-206. 

Establishing National Authority 29 

Utopia . . ," 34 However, "the delegates from the small states . . . 
[a]pparendy realizing that under the Virginia Plan, Massachusetts, Vir- 
ginia and Pennsylvania could virtually dominate the national government 
and probably appreciating that to sell this program to the 'folks back 
home' would be impossible . . . dug in their heels and demanded time 
for a consideration of alternatives. 35 Out of this consideration came 
the New Jersey^ Plan, which according to standard analyses was an 
expression of the stated-rightists' "reversion to the status-quo under the 
Articles of Confederation. . . ," 36 However, Roche suggests this was a 
political maneuver designed to gain support from those not represented 
at the Convention, rather than a defense of states' rights among the 

It is true that the New Jersey Plan put the states back into the 
institutional picture, but ... to do so was a recognition of political 
reality rather than an affirmation of states' rights. A serious case can 
be made that the advocates of the New Jersey Plan, far from being 
ideological addicts of states' rights, intended to substitute for the 
Virginia Plan a system which would both retain strong national 
power and have a chance of adoption in the states. ... In fact, [New 
Jersey delegate] Patterson's notes of his speech can easily be con- 
strued as an argument for attaining the substantive objectives of 
the Virginia Plan by a sound political route, i.e., pouring the new 
wine in the old bottles. ... In other words, the advocates of the 
New Jersey Plan concentrated their fire on what they held to be the 
political liabilities of the Virginia Plan which were matters of 
institutional structure rather than on the proposed scope of national 
authority. 37 

34 "The lower house of the national legislature was to be elected directly 
by the people of the states with membership proportional to the population. 
The upper house was to be selected by the lower, and the two chambers 
would elect the executive and choose die judges. The national government 
would be thus cut completely loose from the states." Roche, "The Founding 
Fathers," op. ch., pp. 804-805. 

35 Loc. cit. 

Ibid., p. 806. 

37 "The critical fight was over representation of the states and once the 
Connecticut Compromise was adopted . . . the convention was over the hump. 
Madison, James Wilson, and Gouverneur Morris of New York . . . fought 
the compromise all the way in a last ditch effort to get a unitary state with 
parliamentary supremacy. But their allies deserted them and they demon- 
strated after their defeat the essentially opportunist character of their ob- 
jections. ... It nourishes an increased respect for Madison's devotion to the 
art of politics, to realize that this dogged fighter could sit down six months 

30 America as a New Nation 

This "group of extremely talented democratic politicians" were not 
"rhapsodic" about the final form of the Constitution, but they had 

refused to attempt the establishment of a strong, centralized sover- 
eignty on the principle of legislative supremacy for the excellent 
reason that the people would not accept it f^Ktical realities forced 
them to water down their objectives and they settled, like the good 
politicians they were, for half a loaf. . . . The result was a Constitu- 
tion which the people, in fact, by democratic processes, did accept, 
and a new and far better national government was established. 38 

The energy behind the "nationalistic" aims of the Constitutional Con- 
vention came from leaders of a young generation whose careers, having 
been launched in the continental war effort of the Revolution, depended 
upon the survival of a nationalistic outlook. In age and aspiration, they 
resembled the leadership of many contemporary new states. On the 
other hand, those opposed to a strong central American government, who 
had little if any representation at the Constitutional Convention, came 
from an older generation whose careers were not only state-centered but 
had been formed prior to the Revolution. 39 

Following the war "the spirit of unity generated by the struggle for 
independence . . . lapsed" and the older generation reverted to its old 
provincial ways, the particularism and inertia of local authority. 40 With 
the exception of Pennsylvania, this meant primarily that men far more 
than measures, personal connections rather than party machines, played 
the most significant role in the conduct of politics. 41 

In this respect, the difference between die anti-Federalists and the 

later and prepare essays for The Federalist in contradiction to his basic 
convictions about the true course the Convention should have taken." Ibid., 
pp. 806, 810. 

88 Ibid., pp. 813, 815, 816. (Emphasis in the original.) 

89 Elkins and McKitrick, "The Founding Fathers," op. cit., pp. 203-204. "Mer- 
rill Jensen has compiled two lists, with nine names in each, of the men he 
considers to have been the leading spirits of the Federalists and Anti- 
Federalists. . . . The age difference between these two groups is especially 
striking. The Federalists were on the average ten to twelve years younger 
than the Anti-Federalists. . . . This age differential takes on a special signifi- 
cance when it is related to the career profiles of the men concerned." Ibid., 
pp. 202-203. 
*>Ibid., p. 206. 
41 Chambers, Parties in a New Nation, pp. 19-20. 

Establishing National Authority 3 1 

"Continental" Federalists is suggestive of Hodgkins's classification of the 
structure of African parties into primitive and modern: 

Parties of the former type [primitive] are dominated by "personal- 
ities," who enjoy a superior social status, either as traditional rulers 
or members of ruling families, or as belonging to the higher ranks 
of the urban, professional elite (lawyers, doctors, etc.). . - . Their 
political machinery, central and local, is of a rudimentary land. . , . 
They have little, if anything, in the way of a secretariat or full-time 
officials. . . . They depend for popular support less upon organization 
and propaganda than on habits of respect for traditional authority, 
or wealth and reputation. . . . 

Parties of the second type [modern] aim at ... a much more 
elaborate structure. Since their chief claim and function is to 
represent the mass, they are committed to a form of organization 
that is (certainly on paper and to some extent in practice) highly 
democratic. . . . Parties of this type are able to achieve a much 
higher level of efficiency than the "parties of personalities"; . . . 
because they possess a continuously functioning central office. . . . 
Indeed, dependence upon professional politicians permanents 
"who naturally tend to form a class and assume a certain authority" 
for the running of the machine is one of the most distinctive features 
of the "mass" party. ... It depends for its strength not on the 
backing of traditional authority but upon propaganda, designed 
to appeal particularly to the imagination of the young, to women, 
to the semi-urbanized and discontented; to those who are outside 
the local hierarchies, and interested in reform and change. 42 

42 Hodgkin, Nationalism in Colonial Africa, pp. 156-159. If one accepts or 
overlooks the extreme nature of Merrill Jensen's view, an even closer parallel 
can be seen. In speaking of the "Federalists" he states: "They too could call 
conventions. They too could paint dark pictures of the times and blame the 
supposed woes of the country on the Articles of Confederation, as the 
radicals had blamed the British government before 1776. They too could, and 
did, adopt the radical theory of the sovereignty of the people; in the name of 
the people they engineered a conservative counter-revolution and erected 
a nationalistic government whose purpose in part was to thwart the will of 
'the people' in whose name they acted. They too could use one name while 
pursuing a goal that was the opposite in fact. Thus, although [they were] 
'nationalistic' they adopted the name 'Federalist' for it served to disguise the 
extent of the changes diey desired. True, the government they created had a 
good many 'federal' features, but this was so because . . . [they] were political 
realists and had to compromise with the political reality of actual state 
sovereignty." Merrill Jensen, The Articles of Confederation (Madison: Uni- 
versity of Wisconsin Press, 1940), p. 245. 
Hodgkin in further describing the modern "mass" parties of Africa writes, 

32 America as a New Nation 

Early America differed from the nations in Africa in that there did not 
anywhere exist "modern" parties which a political leader could take as a 
model. These emerged as a result of needs in the American situation- 
some of which, however, parallel those which stimulate "modern" party 
organization in Africa and Asia today. 

The continental "caucus" at the Constitutional Convention did not 
represent a full transition to a modern political party. Such a transition 
implies the growth of an organization that is rationally oriented toward 
vote-getting. It also implies that this organization is connected to a 
social base with common ideological interests. In contrast, the struggle 
for ratification was particular to each state. In some the upper classes 
were for it while in others they were against it, according to the pecu- 
liarities of politics in each. The "Constitutionalists" relied on old political 
techniques, including the manipulation of notables, cliques, and coteries 
to get ratification through. 

However, insofar as the transition to modern parties implies the rational 
calculation of what policies are necessary to get votes, the Constitutional 
Convention did mark a step in this direction. First, it created an organ 
in which policies touching on the interests of persons in all of the 
states were to be debated. Secondly, it marked a movement away from 
the politics of notables and coteries who were deeply tied to the old 
political structure of state supremacy. By establishing the principle of 
rationally calculating how to marshal public support for national policy, 
it opened the door for policies that addressed themselves directly to 
specific interest groups in all states. It was only a step further for 
Hamilton to create a coherent fiscal program designed to mobilize 
interests on behalf of national power and economic development. His 
attempts to manage politics in the capital to get his plans through Con- 
gress, then, "brought strong responses across the country. In the process, 
what began as a capital faction soon assumed status as a national faction 
and then, finally, as the new Federalist party." 43 

The Federalist party organization could be described as parallel to 
those patron parties in Africa that are national but which represent a 

"One common characteristic is the radical character of their professed aims, 
set out in elaborate written constitutions, in which western democratic and 
socialist ideas are blended with African nationalist doctrine. . . . Any African 
'mass' party, if it wishes to gain popular support, must speak the language of 
modern radicalism." Hodgfcin, op. cit., pp. 161-162. 
43 Chambers, Parties in a New Nation, pp. 39-40. (Emphasis mine.) 

Establishing National Authority 3 3 

linking of local notables rather than an organization designed to mobilize 
the common people. 44 The first "modern" party, in the sense that there 
was a "coordination in activity between leaders at the capital, and leaders, 
actives and popular followings in the states, counties, and towns," 45 was 
to come with the crystallization of the Jeff ersonian Democratic-Republi- 
can party. It is interesting to note that while the leaders of both parties 
were quite young in the first decade of the Republic, j 

fersoniajos were considerably ounger than the more conservative Feder- 
alists. Chambers estimates that the average age of the Federalists at the 
time of the 1792 election was forty-four, while that of the embryonic 
Democratic-Republicans, including the "comparative oldsters," Jefferson 
(forty-nine), Clinton (fifty-three), and Burr (forty-six), was thirty-six. 46 
The Democratic-Republicans developed party organizations for some 
of the same reasons that leaders develop such organizations in Africa 
today. They were opposed to the established authorities whose policies 
largely dominated public affairs through the Federalist organization. 47 
When the Jay treaty caused popular indignation, and provoked concern 
on the part of some merchants that the British would not pay their war 
debts, the Republicans took advantage of this disaffection to organize an 
opposition based on popular support. They appealed to social categories 
that cut across existing political boundaries, just as the African mass- 
based parties do. 48 In so doing, the Democratic-Republican party served 

44 Ruth Schacter, "Single-party Systems in West Africa," American Political 
Science Review, 55 (1961), p. 297. 

45 Chambers, Parties in a New Nation, p. 80. 

46 Ibid., pp. 68-69. 

47 Schacter, "Single Party Systems . . . ," op. cit., p. 295. 

48 Ruth Schacter describes the unifying functions of the African mass parties 
in this way: "While patron parties' leaders, once through this first simple 
phase of 'ethnic arithmetic,' generally stopped their calculations there [uniting 
local notables] the leaders of mass parties had taken that as a point of depar- 
ture. They tried to use their party organizations in order to awaken a wider 
national sense of community. They appealed to particular categories existing 
within or cutting across ethnic groups a technique suitable to recruiting in a 
mobile, changing society. Youth and women were of course two such cate- 
gories which mass parties emphasized heavily. . . . They often appealed to 
rural underprivileged groups. . . . Finally, they appealed to those who earned 
money income for growing coffee, cocoa, peanuts or bananas, and had be- 
come restless with tradition. . . ." "Single Party Systems . . . ," op. cit., p. 301. 
As this description of the nature of support for African mass parties empha- 
sizes, while the power techniques used to unite the people of the different 

34 America as a New Nation 

as a means of uniting the citizens of the several states in national citizen- 
ship by mobilizing their common interests in the national arena. 

However, as is well known, the evolution of national political parties 
could not erase differences in regional interests. Nor did the ratification 
of the Constitution serve to legitimate the new governmental structure, 
even though it provided a basis for national unity. Only with time, and 
after many attempts to thwart its powers, was the federal government 
finally able to achieve a high degree of political legitimacy. A number of 
Southern apologists after the Civil War, and more recently Arthur 
Schlesinger, Sr. (who definitely doesn't fall into that category), have 
documented the proposition that almost every state and every major 
political faction and interest group attempted, at one time or other 
between 1790 and 1860, to weaken the power of the national govern- 
ment or to break up the Union directly. 49 

There were many threats to secede in the first decade of national 
existence, and the threats came from both northern and southern states. 50 
In 1798 two future presidents, Jefferson and Madison, sought the passage 
by a state legislature of nullification ordinances which proclaimed the 
right of each state to decide the extent of national authority to be 
tolerated within its boundaries. After leaving national office in 1801, 
various Federalist leaders sought in 1804, 1808, and 1812 to take the 
New England or northern states out of the Union. 

Later, when the slavery issue became important, both abolitionists 
and defenders of slavery talked of destroying the Constitution and the 
Union. The activities of the Southerners are, of course, well known, but 
it is often forgotten that in the early period of the controversy, when 
the abolitionists despaired of eliminating slavery because of constitutional 
guarantees, the Constitution was described by some as a "slave-holders" 
document and Garrison called it "a covenant with death and an agree- 
ment with hell." 51 

sections in contemporary new nations and of the states in early America may 

be similar, the nature of the tradition that divides them is very different. 

49 See Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., New Viewpoints in American History (New 

York: Macmfflan, 1922), pp. 220-240; Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the 

Confederate Government (New York: Collier Books, 1961), pp. 56-60. 

60 See Marshall Smelser, "The Federalist Period as an Age of Passion," The 

American Quarterly, 10 (1958), p. 393. 

51 W. L. Garrison, The Words of Garrison (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 

1905), p. 25. 

Establishing National Authority 3 5 

Because of their opposition to slavery, some northern states urged non- 
cooperation with the government during the Mexican War, perceived by 
them as a struggle to extend slave territory. There were, in fact, many 
deserters from the American Army during this war. It is "apparently 
the only case known in which a body of United States soldiers after 
deserting subsequently formed a distinct corps in the enemy's army " 52 

Various northern states during the 1850's passed laws the so-called 
Personal Liberty Laws which were designed to prevent the enforcement 
of federal legislation (the Fugitive Slave Law). New Jersey's legislature 
justified this position in 1852 by describing the Union as "a compact 
between the several States," while as late as 1859, Wisconsin, the state 
in which the Republican Party had been founded five years earlier, 
declared that the several states "which had formed the federal compact, 
being 'sovereign and independent,' had 'the unquestionable right to judge 
of its infractions' and to resort to 'positive defiance' of all unauthorized 
acts of the general government." 53 

/ Thus, in the early United States, as in contemporary new states, the 
Achievement of national unity, and of respect for a national authority, 
was no easy task. 

The possibility of secession remains one of the basic problems facing 
many new states in our century. Their unity immediately after gaining 
independence "is largely explained by the negative, anti-Western, anti- 
colonial content of non-Western nationalism. One need not be a prophet 
of doom to anticipate that this negative unity may in time, and perhaps 
before long, weaken, and that the newly independent non-Western 
nation-states may then find themselves confronted by some of the dis- 
sensions and antagonisms which nationalist aspirations have so often 
brought in their wake elsewhere." 54 

52 Edward S. Wallace, "Notes and Comment Deserters in the Mexican War," 
The Hispanic American Historical Review, 15 (1935), p. 374. 

53 Schlesinger, Sr., New Viewpoints in American History, p. 231. 
54 Benda, "Revolution and Nationalism . . . ," op. cit., pp. 40-41. See also 
Coleman, "Nationalism in Tropical Africa," op. cit., pp. 167-194. Coleman 
states that "until the recent decision to give the Southern Cameroons greater 
autonomy within the emergent Federation of Nigeria, Cameroonian national- 
ists were wavering between remaining an integral part of the Eastern Region 
of Nigeria, or seceding and joining with the nationalists in the French Camer- 
oons in an endeavor to create a Kamerun nation based upon the artificial 
boundaries of the short-lived German Kamerun." (P. 189.) 

36 America as a New Nation 

Opposition Rights and the Establishment of New Polities 

The issues involved in the emergence of legitimate national authority 
and a sense of national unity, and those which pertain to the establishment 
of democratic procedures, are clearly separate problems although they 
are sometimes confused in discussing the politics of new nations. Democ- 
racy may be conceived of as a system of institutionalized opposition in 
which the people choose among alternative contenders for public office. 55 
To create a stable, representative, decision-making process that provides 
a legitimate place for opposition, that recognizes the rights of those with- 
out power to advocate "error" and the overthrow of those in office, is 
extremely difficult in any polity. It is particularly problematic in new 
states which must be concerned also with the sheer problem of the 
survival of national authority itself. 

In a recent Ghanese White Paper seeking to justify legislation and 
police actions which involved restrictions upon (and actual imprisonment 
of) opposition politicians, the Ghana government suggested that these 
actions were necessary because of plots, saboteurs, subversion, and threats 
of foreign intervention. The White Paper argues that "the strains 
experienced by an emergent country immediately after independence are 
certainly as great as, if not greater than, the strains experienced by a 
developed country in wartime." 56 According to Nkrumah, a new state 
"is still weakly expressed as a national unity," and its frail structure must 
be protected by "identifying the emergent nation with the party," that is, 
by denying the possibility of a legitimate opposition, since the latter 
would endanger die stability of the nation. 57 

55 1 have elaborated the concept of democracy in other writings. See my 
Political Man, pp. 45-47; Introduction to Robert Michels, Political Parties 
(New York: Collier Books, 1962), pp. 33-35; and S. M. Lipset, M. Trow and 
J. S. Coleman, Union Democracy (Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press, 1956), pp. 

56 Discussed and cited in Dennis Austin, "Strong Rule in Ghana," The Listener, 
67 (1962) p. 156. 

57 Quoted in Austin, loc. cit. David Apter describes these problems as follows: 
"New nations are plagued with almost the entire range of political problems 
known to man. They are beset by an accumulation of immediate and often 
mundane tasks such as building up adequate medical, health, education, trans- 
port, and other services, as well as improvement of housing, food supplies and 
other basic necessities beyond the subsistence level." In trying to deal with 
these problems, and harassed by a populace hungry for some of the promised 
benefits, it is easy to see how debate, criticism, and opposition come to be 

Establishing National Authority 37 

Restrictions on democratic rights and opposition parties are, of course, 
not unique to Ghana among the contemporary new states. In Africa, the 
only new state with more than one significant party is Nigeria, "and this 
is true only because it is a federal . . . [system] reflecting one-party 
domination in the regions." 58 

The early history of the United States reveals many of the same 
problems and the resulting pressures to eliminate democratic rights 
as do those of contemporary new states. During Washington's first ad- 
ministration, all important differences of opinion could be expressed 
within the government, since both Jefferson and Hamilton, the leaders 
of what were to become the two major parties, were the most influential 
members of the Cabinet. After Jefferson's withdrawal, at the end of 
Washington's first term, and the subsequent formation of an opposition 
party around 1797 the restraints on the tactics of both sides weakened 

Each was then exposed to a temptation which it had not had to 
face before. Secret societies, subversion, and defiance seemed the 
only course possible to many who disapproved of government 
policies. . . . From the point of view of the historian it does not 
matter whether force provoked subversion or subversion, force; 
the important thing for the development of parties is the way in 

regarded by those trying to push through this revolution as stultifying anti- 
progressive influences that deter the attainment of goals and wreak havoc 
with the tenuous basis of consensus and authority. Because of these very 
factors, political opposition, according to Apter, needs a more limited and 
specialized role than is accorded it in stable, industrialized countries. See David 
Apter, "Some Reflections on the Role of a Political Opposition in New Na- 
tions," Comparative Studies in Society and History, 4 (1962), p. 154; see also 
Rupert Emerson, From Empire to Nation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, 1960), pp. 272-292. 

58 W. G. Runciman, "Charismatic Legitimacy and One-Party Rule in Ghana," 
European Journal of Sociology, forthcoming. David Apter has suggested that 
factors which determine the behavior of both governmental and opposition 
groups have worked against the development of legitimate oppositions in new 
states. The leaders of such states have monopolized national loyalties during 
the long struggle with the colonial power, and hence find it difficult to accept 
opposition from within the nation as anything but treason. Conversely, op- 
position groups and leaders have usually entered politics while taking part in 
the struggle against the colonial oppressor, and have developed a conception 
of opposition activity which identifies efforts to change a government with the 
need for an upset in the fundamental character of the polity. Apter, loc. ch. 

38 America as a New Nation 

which the attitudes of supporters and opponents of the Administra- 
tion aggravated each other. 59 

Hamilton, the political genius behind the first incumbents, organized 
the first party to insure popular support for governmental policies. It was 
a "government party" on a national scale, as opposed to the previous 
state politicking. It was "a party of stability, dedicated to the idea that 
the first imperative for government in a new nation was that it must govern 
and sustain itself." 60 As such, the legitimate existence of organized opposi- 
tion to it was contrary to its conception. 

Opposition to its policies did not arise initially as a party matter but 
as individual protests both on the popular level and within the political 
elite. Opposition gradually crystallized, however, into a political move- 
ment around the leadership of Madison and Jefferson. Its adherents were 
maintaining "in effect, that the new polity should also [in addition to 
maintaining its stability] provide room for counteraction, for effective 
representation of interests and opinions that were slighted or discounte- 
nanced in the government party." 61 

[T]he emerging Republicans were "going to the people" in a virtu- 
ally unprecedented attempt not only to represent popular interests 
and concerns, but to monopolize popular opposition to those who 
held power. If they had their way, if their appeal to planters, 
farmers, and "mechanics" was broadened sufficiently to succeed, it 
would end by displacing the Federalists in power and substituting 
a new set of governors. 62 

The Federalists viewed such organized opposition in much the same 
light as many leader of the contemporary new states view their rivals: 

[T]he Federalists took an intolerant position regarding the oppo- 
sition party, which seemed to be a race of marplots characterized by 
excessive ambition, unwholesome partisanship and a dangerous re- 
liance upon the judgment of the voters. At best the Republicans of- 
ten seemed governed by obstinacy, envy, malice or ambition. At 
worst they were seditious and treasonable. Federalist private corre- 
spondence was peppered with references to Republican disloyalty, 

69 Charles, The Origins of the American Party System, p. 42. 

60 Chambers, Parties in a New Nation, p. 65. 

61 Loc. cit. 

Establishing National Authority 39 

insincerity, intrigue and demagoguery. . . . The conclusion almost 
forced upon the reader of these and hundreds more of Federalist 
condemnations is that the two-party system is immoral. . . . It became 
almost normal to consider opposition as seditious and, in extraor- 
dinary cases, as treasonable** 

The strains endemic in the establishment of a new structure of authority 
were increased by the fact that the nation and the embryonic parties were 
dJJ4gd in their sympathies for the two major contestants in the European 
war, RevolurionaryFrance and Great Britain. Each side was convinced that 
the other had secret intentions to take the country into war in support of its 
favorite. The French terror was a particular evil to the Federalists, and 
they, like conservatives in other countries, were persuaded that French 
agents were conspiring with sympathetic Americans to overthrow the 
government here. 64 The Federalists were therefore opposed to any form 
of organized opposition. They were much more violent in their denuncia- 
tions of the treasonable activities of the Republicans than were the Jeffer- 
sonians in return. 65 And given the tremendous moral indignation which 
characterized Federalist private opinions, it is not surprising that they at- 
tempted to repress their opponents. 66 The Alien and Sedition Acts passed 
in 1798 gave the President "the power to order out of the country any 
alien whom he thought dangerous to the public peace or whom he had 
reasonable grounds to suspect of plotting against the government" and 
left such aliens without recourse to the courts.* 7 The Sedition Act "was 
intended to deal with citizens or aliens who too severely criticized the 
government. ... In its final form it was made a high misdemeanor 'unlaw- 
fully to combine and conspire' in order to oppose the legal measures of 
the government . . . , [t]o publish a false or malicious writing against the 

63 Smelser, "The Federalist Period . . . ," op. cit., pp. 394-395. (Emphasis mine.) 

64 John C. Miller, Crisis in Freedom: The Alien and Sedition Acts (Boston: 
Little, Brown, 1951), p. 14. 

65 Smelser, "The Federalist Period . . . ," op, cit., pp. 397-398. 

66 In 1797, an unsuccessful attempt was made to convict a Republican Con- 
gressman of "seditious libel" for "unfounded calumnies against the unhappy 
government of the United States," an attempt which had the support of die 
Attorney-General. Leonard W. Levy, Legacy of Suppression, Freedom of 
Speech and Press in Early American History (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap 
Press of Harvard University Press, 1960), p. 241. 

67 See Miller, Crisis in Freedom, and James M. Smith, Freedom's* Fetters, 
The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties (Ithaca, N. Y.: 
Cornell University Press, 1956). 

40 America as a New Nation 

government of the United States, the President, or Congress with the 
purpose of stirring up hatred or resistance against them. . . ," 68 

That the law was designed for partisan purposes was obvious. All those 
arrested and convicted under it were Republicans. Basically, Federalist 
officials and Federalist juries enforced the law against their political oppo- 
nents. 69 These efforts to undermine democratic rights gave Jefferson and 
Madison a major issue, which historians believe played an important role 
in defeating the Federalists in 1800. 70 

Once defeated for the Presidency in 1800, the Federalists never were 
able to regain office on a national scale and virtually disappeared after 
1814. The causes for the downfall of the Federalists are complex, and 
cannot be detailed here. However, one reason was undoubtedly their 
unwillingness or inability to learn how to perform as an opposition 
party in an egalitarian democracy. Some historians suggest that they 
failed basically because, as men convinced of their "natural" right to 
rule, they did not believe in parties which appealed to the people. 71 

68 John Spencer Bassett, The Federalist System (New York: Harper & Bros., 
I960), pp. 258-259. 

69 Ibid., pp. 263-264. "All told, Federalist judges jailed and fined 70 men under 
the Sedition Act. . . . With few exceptions the trials were travesties of justice 
dominated by judges who saw treason behind every expression of Republican 
sentiments. Grand juries for bringing in the indictments and trial juries for 
rendering the monotonous verdict of guilty were handpicked by Federalist 
United States marshals in defiance of statutes prescribing orderly procedure. 
The presiding judges often ridiculed the defendants' lawyers and interrupted 
their presentations so outrageously that many threw up their hands and their 
cases, leaving the accused to the mercy of the court." Richard Hofstadter, 
William Miller, and Daniel Aaron, The American Republic (Englewood Cliffs, 
N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1959), I, pp. 331-332. The Federalists not only persecuted 
Republican editors, but on a number of occasions Federalist mobs wrecked 
Jeffersonian papers and printing offices and beat up their editors. "[M]ost of 
the mobs of this period were composed of Federalists wearing the insignia of 
the black cockade." Miller, Crisis in Freedom, pp. 195-196. 

70 The Federalists "declared in effect that there were only two parties in the 
United States, Federalists and Jacobins: the one, the party of Americanism 
and constitutionalism, the other pledged to make the Republic a French prov- 
ince and to destroy the Constitution. Edmund Burke said that one could not 
indict a whole people; the Federalists implicitly indicted half a people and 
thereby brought about their own downfall," Miller, Crisis in Freedom, p. 77. 

71 William O. Lynch, Fifty Years of Party Warfare 1189-1831 (Indianapolis: 
Bobbs Merrill, 1931), pp. 122-123. While still in office, "the Federalist view 
[was] that their opponents were not the other party, but simply 'party' or 
'faction'; not the 'opposition' who might one day justly inherit the reins of 
government." Cunliffe, George Washington, p. 151. "The party of Jefferson 

Establishing National Authority 41 

The civil liberties record of the Jeffersonians, in office, is a better one 
than that of the Federalists. How much of this may be explained on the 
assumption that they believed more firmly in the virtues of democracy 
than their opponents, it is difficult to say. Certainly their years of opposi- 
tion had led them to make many statements in favor of democratic rights, 
but oppositionists in other lands have forgotten such programs once in 
power and faced with "unscrupulous criticism." Perhaps more important 
is the fact that the Democratic-Republicans did believe in states' rights 
and did oppose using federal courts to try common-law crimes. Also, the 
federal judiciary remained for some time in the hands of Federalist judges, 
who presumably were loath to permit convictions of their political sym- 
pathizers for expression of belief. Finally, there was a difference in the na- 
ture of the opposition. The Federalists were fighting a growing party that 
could realistically hope for eventual victory; the Democratic-Republicans, 
when in office, were opposed by a rapidly declining party, whose very 
lack of faith in extending the scope of the democratic process was to un- 
dermine any chance it had of returning to office. Since the Federalists 
were committing political suicide, there was no need for the administra- 
tion to find means to repress them. The existence of a real but declining 
opposition may, therefore, be regarded as being, under certain circum- 
stances, a contribution to the institutionalization of democratic rights. 

Yet it should be noted that on the level of state government, Demo- 

and Madison was never recognized as a lawfully begotten party: even after 
Jefferson became President, to the Federalists he was still the leader of a 
'faction* whose objective was the subversion of the Constitution," Miller, Crisis 
in Freedom, p. 11. One of the grievances which various Federalists expressed 
against the Jeffersonian Republicans "was that they went to some trouble to 
gain popularity, and disgraced themselves by seeking votes." Smelser, "The 
Federalist Period . . .," op. cit., p. 395. "The first party the Hamiltonian 
Federalists was a party on the English model: a group of leaders associated 
loosely in a common policy expecting to command votes partly by their pol- 
icy and partly by their influence. It failed to develop any rank and file organ- 
ization and for this very reason its career as a national party was short-lived. 
Their Republican opponents, without control of the government and at most 
times before 1800 without a majority in Congress, were forced to make use 
of popular organization. Building upon Democratic Societies . . . , the Repub- 
licans developed a party in which die life came from local units. . . ." W. R. 
Brock, The Character of American History (New York: St. Martin's, 1960), 
p. 92. 

For an analysis of the final decline of Federalism, see Shaw Livermore, Jr., 
The Twilight of Federalism: The Disintegration of the Federalist Party 1815- 
1830 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1962). 

42 America as a New Nation 

cratic-Republicans did use their power to crack down on Federalist opin- 
ion. "Jefferson was no advocate of a 'licentious' press; like Hamilton and 
Adams, he believed that the press ought to be restrained Svithin the legal 
and wholesome limits of truth.' He differed from the Federalists chiefly 
in insisting that this restraint be imposed by the states rather than by the 

Federal government " 72 In 1803, Jefferson wrote to Governor McKean 

of Pennsylvania along the following lines: 

Jefferson cautioned the Democratic governor to keep confidential 
his remarks on the subject of libel prosecutions.The Federalists, he 
noted, having failed to destroy the freedom of the press "by their 
gag law, seem to have attacked it in an opposite form, that is by 
pushing its licentiousness and its lying to such a degree of prosti- 
tution as to deprive it of all credit." Jefferson was not without a sug- 
gestion for the melioration of the condition of the press: "I have 
long thought that a few prosecutions of the most eminent offenders 
would have a wholesome effect in restoring the intregrity of the 
presses." 78 

Where the Federalists controlled a state government, as in the case of 
Connecticut, and hence prevented the application of the Democratic doc- 
trine that seditious libel was a state offense, Jefferson was not averse to 
inaugurating prosecutions in the federal courts. In 1806, six indictments 
were drawn against four Connecticut Federalist editors and two minis- 

72 Miller, Crisis in Freedom, p. 231. In December 1800, a Federalist editor "was 
fined two thousand, five hundred dollars in a Pennsylvania court for libeling 
a Republican. The amount of this fine was compared by distraught Federalists 
with the two-hundred-dollar fine imposed upon Abijah Adams for publishing 
a libel on the Massachusetts legislature and with the fines assessed by Federalist 
judges under the Sedition Act. 'What a difference there is between the chance 
of a Federalist among Jacobins, and of a Jacobin among Federalists!' they ex- 
claimed. The boasted friends of liberty of the press inflict a tenfold more 
severe punishment, when their characters are canvassed.' " Ibid., p. 229. In New 
York in 1803 Governor George Clinton, a friend of Jefferson, obtained an in- 
dictment for seditious libel against the editor of a Federalist journal, and the 
editor was convicted at a trial presided over by a Democratic Chief Justice, 
who was to become the next governor of New York. The judge charged the 
jury "that truth was not a defense against a charge of seditious libel, that its 
only duty was to find whether the defendant had in fact published the state- 
ment [that Jefferson had bribed an editor to denounce Washington] charged." 
Levy, Legacy of Suppression, pp. 297-298. 
78 Ibid., p. 300. The state did indict a Federalist editor shortly thereafter. 

Establishing National Authority 43 

ters on the charge of seditious libel on the President. The ministers were 
charged with committing the libel in sermons?* 

Leonard Levy concludes his survey of freedom of speech and press in 
early American history by arguing that the Democrats, like the Federal- 
ists, did not believe in these freedoms when confronted with serious oppo- 
sition. Each was prepared to use principled libertarian arguments when 
his "ox was being gored." 75 Perhaps the most ironic piece of evidence in 
this regard, indicating how fragile is a belief in "the rules of the game" in 
a new democracy, is an article by Tom Paine written for a New York 
newspaper in 1806, in which the great libertarian and convicted sedition- 
ist argued that "there is a difference between error and licentiousness," 
that "the term liberty of the press arose from a FACT, the abolition of the 
office of Imprimateur [sic], and that opinion has nothing to do with the 
case." Paine urged that the public authorities judge and punish "atrocious" 
statements. 76 

The various efforts by both Federalists and Democratic-Republicans to 
repress the rights of their opponents clearly indicate that in many ways 
our early political officials resembled those heads of new states in the 
twentieth century who view criticism of themselves as tantamount to an 
attack on the nation itself. Such behavior characterizes leaders of polities 
in which the concept of democratic succession to office has not been in- 
stitutionalized. Thus, in many American trade unions today, national offi- 
cers who hold effective power for life often interpret criticism as libelous 
and treasonable. To accept criticism as proper requires the prior accept- 

74 Jefferson claimed in 1809 that the prosecutions had been instituted without 
his knowledge, but Leonard Levy concludes that the historical record indicates 
that while they may have begun without his knowledge "he learned of 
them . . . nearly four months before they were scheduled for trial, and he 
approved of them until expediency dictated his disapproval some months 
later." Ibid., pp. 302-305. Levy says that one of the "libels," the charge that 
Jefferson when young had tried to seduce a friend's wife, was demonstrably 
true and that when he learned that this was part of the case he saw to it 
that the charges were dropped. 

75 An earlier survey of Jefferson's relations with the press concludes: "[He] 
had lashed himself in a fine frenzy over the temporary sedition laws as a gag 
upon free speech and an attack upon a free press, yet would have the states 
permanently apply the same remedy; he had wished to reform journalism, 
but his idea of reformation was that of the character in Beaconsfield's novel 
of the agreeable man 'one that agrees with me.' " See W. C. Ford, "Jeffer- 
son and the Newspaper," Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 
(Washington: 1905), Vol. VIII, p. 110. 

76 Levy, Legacy of Suppression, pp. 307-308. 

44 America as a New Nation 

ance of the view that opposition and succession are normal, and that men 
may be loyal to the polity and yet disapprove of the particular set of in- 
cumbents. This view does not come easily to men who have themselves 
created a polity, and cannot, therefore, conceive of it functioning prop- 
erly without them or in ways other than they think best. 

Yet, though the behavior of members of both early American parties 
indicate that they, too, reacted to criticism as being damaging to the na- 
tion, it must also be recognized that both parties permitted a great deal of 
opposition, much more than is tolerated in most of the new states of Asia 
and Africa. In some part, this may reflect the fact that much as they dis- 
agreed, the heads of both groups had worked together to make the Rev- 
olution and establish the Constitution. They had known and trusted each 
other for some decades. In a real sense, the United States began with a 
small, highly educated political elite, the members of which recognized 
each other as belonging to the ruling club. Both Adams and Hamilton 
demonstrated this when, on different occasions, each put adherence to 
the rules of the game ahead of party advantage or personal feelings. The 
defeat of the Federalists in the elections of 1800 represented the first oc- 
casion in modern -politics in 'which an incumbent political party suffered 
an electoral defeat and simply turned over power to its opponents. This 
acceptance of the rules of the electoral game has not occurred in many 
new states. 

The decline of the Federalists after 1800 meant that the United States 
did not experience a real succession problem again until 1829, with the 
inauguration of Andrew Jackson. The Virginia Dynasty of Jefferson, 
Madison, and Monroe governed the country for twenty-four years, each 
President succeeding the other without real difficulty. From 1809, when 
Madison took over from Jefferson, to 1829, when John Quincy Adams 
was succeeded by Jackson, each President was followed in office by his 
chief cabinet officer, the Secretary of State. And a national two-party 
system did not emerge anew until the 1830's, when Jackson's opponents 
united in the Whig party. 

In effect, the country was dominated on the national level for close to 
three decades by a loosely structured one-party system. Although the anal- 
ogy may appear far-fetched, in a certain sense the political system resembled 
that which has grown up in recent decades in Mexico, and perhaps in 
some other underdeveloped countries. Interest groups and sectional con- 
cerns led to serious divisions within the country over the purchase of 
Louisiana, relations with the warring powers of Europe, the War of 1812, 
and the Missouri compromise of 1819 over slavery. Any of these issues 
could have resulted in the dissolution of effective national authority. 

Establishing National Authority 45 

However, all of them were resolved, not so much at the ballot box as by 
negotiations conducted under the authority of the three great Virginians 
men who carried with them the prestige stemming from their role in 
founding the nation, and from their leadership of the all-powerful Demo- 
cratic-Republican party. On the national level, conservatives and radicals 
all came to belong to the same party, formally at least, and gave formal 
allegiance to the same liberal doctrines and leaders. 77 

Thomas Jefferson had anticipated the complete triumph of his party 
following the electoral defeat of Federalism, and looked forward to po- 
litical divisions among those who believed in the "correct," that is, Repub- 
lican, principles. And presumably so long as all effective participants in 
politics were on the "good" side, the temptation to repress criticism 
within the party would be less: 

I had always expected that when the Republicans should have put 
all things under their feet, they would schismatize among themselves. 
I always expected, too, that whatever names the parties might bear, 
the real division would be into moderate and ardent republicanism. 
In this division there is no great danger. ... It is to be considered as 
apostasy only when they purchase the vote of federalists, with a 
participation in honor and power. 78 

The almost unchallenged rule of the Virginia Dynasty and the Demo- 
cratic-Republican Party served to legitimate national authority and dem- 
ocratic rights. By the time the nation divided again into two broad war- 
ring factions which appealed for mass support, the country had existed for 
forty years, the Constitution had been glorified, and the authority of the 
courts had been accepted as definitive. 

The Need for "Payoff" 

All claims to a legitimate tide to rule in new states must ultimately win 
acceptance through demonstrating effectiveness. The loyalty of the dif- 
ferent groups to the system must be won through developing in them the 

77 "Almost every man called himself a Jeffersonkn Republican in those days 
and political conflicts on a national scale were apt to be conflicts between 
personalities and not between principles or programs." George Dangerfield, 
The Era of Good Feeling (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1952), p. xiii. See 
also Bradford Perkins, Prologue to War (Berkeley: University of California 
Press, 1961), pp. 33-45. 

78 Cited in Perkins, op. cit., pp. 99-100. Jefferson made this statement in 1807 
while still President. (Emphasis mine.) 

46 America as a New Nation 

conviction that this system is the best or at least an excellent -way to 
accomplish their objectives. And even claims to legitimacy of a super- 
natural sort, such as "the gift of grace," are subjected on the part of the 
populace to a highly pragmatic test that is, what is the payoff? For new 
states today, demonstrating effectiveness means one thing: economic de- 
velopment. Given the "revolution of rising expectations" that has swept 
the emerging nations, need for payoff in terms of economic goods and 
living standards is more important than ever. 79 

As most new states lack the traditional means for rapid economic 
growth, they have been led in recent years to introduce large-scale gov- 
ernment planning and direct state intervention. Although such efforts 
concur with the socialist ideology, the desire to use the state to direct and 
speed up the processes of economic growth has deeper roots than ideo- 
logical conviction. It rests upon the dual necessity to demonstrate effec- 
tiveness to the various groups within the polity, and to display national 
competence to the outside world. To a considerable degree the leaders 
seek development as part of their more general effort to overcome feel- 
ings of national inferiority, particularly vis-a-vis the former metropolitan 

Similar processes were at work in the United States, even though after 
the Revolution many leaders, particularly Jefferson, opposed any aid to 
manufacturing or commerce. As one economic historian has put it: 

American industrial consciousness . . . received much of its early 
stimulus from the political storm and stress which preceded and led 
to the winning of independence. . . . American industrial conscious- 
ness grew out of the broad wave of political and economic resent- 
ment against England, but was mainly directed almost from the 
start toward the transfer of English skill and technique to this 
country. By 1830, it had succeeded, and American technology and 
industrial organization were by then comparable to those of Eng- 
land. 80 

79 "A 'down payment' of tangible gains for a substantial part of the sup- 
porters of amalgamation [into a new state] soon after the event, if not earlier, 
seems almost necessary. This was accomplished by the land policies of 
Jefferson, and the fiscal policies of Hamilton. . . ." Deutsch, et aL, Political 
Community and the North Atlantic Area, p, 49. 

80 Samuel Rezneck, 'The Rise and Early Development of Industrial Conscious- 
< ness in the United States, 1760-1830," Journal of Economic and Business 

^History, 4 (1932), pp. 784-785. 

Establishing National Authority 47 

Pressure to develop domestic manufacturing followed shortly on the 
first effort at a national government, since the depression "which inter- 
vened between 1783 and 1787 produced a reawakening of manufacturing 
zeal. Patriotism . . . provided the impetus to it, while there was also 
a better appreciation of the fact that English superiority in technique 
could be overcome only by borrowing it. The new wave of industrial 
agitation rose to a rapid climax in the first years of the federal govern- 
ment. Manufactures, like the Constitution, were expected to strengthen 
the country and help it achieve true independence." 81 

Even Jefferson, the enthusiastic supporter of the physiocratic doctrine 
that agriculture was the only source of true wealth, felt compelled, 
when President, to modify his former objections to manufacturing. "As 
early as 1805 ... [he] complained that his former views had been 
misunderstood. They were intended to apply only to the great cities of 
Europe and not to this country at the present time." 82 

In fact, in this period prior to the War of 1812, the Federalists and 
Republicans appear to have supported government aid to industrialization 
when in office, and to have pointed up some of its adverse effects when 
in opposition. The Republicans defended Jefferson's Embargo on the 
grounds that: 

It must be truly gratifying to every true American to witness the 
rapid introduction and progress of manufacturing establishments in 
the various parts of the United States. The Federalists . . . attacked 
the Embargo . . . from every angle. It was ruining the state's wealth, 
destroying agriculture and commerce to the advantage of manu- 

&1 lbid., p. 788. As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton, although he owned 
no stock in the company, was practically the chief sponsor and manager 
of the New Jersey Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, which 
from the beginning was dubbed the National Manufactory. "For several years 
after 1787 every industrial undertaking, whether public or private, was 
identified with die national interest and helped to stimulate and arouse in- 
dustrial consciousness in the country." Tench Coxe, Assistant Secretary of 
the Treasury and Hamilton's chief aid, originated an ingenious scheme for 
raising capital which was adopted by Hamilton in his Report on Manufactures. 
"It became part of the program of The New Jersey Society ... for which it 
was proposed to mobilize the newly funded national debt. The capital stock 
of the company was to be paid for in public debt certificates, on which it 
was believed, a loan could be raised at Amsterdam at less than 6 per cent." 
Ibid., pp. 793-794. 

82 Ibid., p. 799; see also V. L. Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought 
(New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1930), Vol. I, pp. 347-348. 

48 America as a New Nation 

factures, building up an aristocracy [and] corrupting the moral 
life. . . . 

In evaluating early American economic development, it should be 
recognized that there was a great deal of government intervention and 
even public investment in the economy so as to develop industry and 
commerce. As Carter Goodrich has pointed out in discussing such 
activities: "The closest modern analogy, indeed, is to be found in the 
current projects of so-called underdeveloped countries. ... So much, 
indeed, was done by public initiative that the distinguished economic 
historian, G. S. Callender, declared that this country was at the time 
an early and leading example of the 'modern tendency to extend the 
activity of the state into industry/ " 8 * On a national level, efforts were 
made stimulated by Albert Gallatin, Jefferson's Secretary of the Treas- 
ury to foster direct federal support for companies building new trans- 
portation facilities; but with some minor exceptions, these proposals, 
though advocated by Jefferson and Monroe, failed. The most important 
federal measures directly supporting economic growth took the form 
of investment in the Bank of the United States and, more important, 
protective tariffs to encourage domestic industry against products manu- 
factured in England. 85 

The failure of the effort to involve the federal government directly 
in economic activities did not reflect the strength of business opposition 
or of laissez-faire beliefs. "States' rights, state and sectional interests, and 
a belief in the capacities of the several states seem to have played the 
decisive role in the downfall of national planning. By contrast business 
enterprise offered far less formidable competition." 86 As a consequence, 
most governmental efforts occurred at the state level, and many states 
felt it proper and necessary to use public funds to develop transportation 
facilities, banking, manufactures, and the like. 

State intervention on behalf of economic growth took various forms, 
sometimes regulative, as in the setting up of inspection standards, and 
sometimes directly encouraging, as in financial assistance from lotteries 

88 From "The Democrat," quoted in "Mercury," October 24, 1811, as cited in 
Richard Purcell, Connecticut in Transition, 1115-1881 (Washington: Ameri- 
can Historical Association, 1918), p. 132. 

84 Carter Goodrich, "National Planning of Internal Improvements," Political 
Science Quarterly, 63 (1948), p. 18. 

85 See Fred A. Shannon, America's Economic Growth (New York: Mac- 
millan, 1940), pp. 187-201, for an exposition of United States protective 
tariff policy. 

86 Goodrich, "National Planning of Internal Improvements," op. cit., p. 39. 

Establishing National Authority 49 

or in the form of bounties. A third method was the franchise, which 
amounted to a monopoly that protected a company from competition 
during its early growth. And not unimportant in many states was direct 
government investment in, or outright ownership of, various companies 
whose development was deemed necessary for economic growth or the 
public welfare. 

The system of public inspection "set up categories of goods which 
could not be sold and thus placed in a privileged position those the state 
judged fit." 87 The government relaxed its laws against gambling to 
sanction lotteries, the proceeds of which were used to finance various 
state projects such as the building of bridges and roads, paper mills and 
glasshouses. 88 The bounty was used to some extent by the states to 
encourage individual enterprises, 89 though this technique fell into disuse 
in the early part of the nineteenth century. 

The granting of franchises was particularly important in the construc- 

87 Oscar Handlin and M. F. Handlin, Commonwealth: A Study of the Role 
of Government in the American Economy: Massachusetts, 1114-1861 (New 
York: New York University Press, 1947), p. 72. Merchants to far-off ports, 
responsible for wares they purchased from others, approved of these acts, 
which guaranteed quality and added the presage of state approval to their 
goods. Ibid., p. 67. 

88 "In 1780, a $200,000 lottery financed roads in Berkshire and Hampshire 
counties." Similar schemes were used to raise funds to build or repair bridges 
and "in 1782, ... to build a paper mill in Milton, and in 1783, for a founder- 
ing glasshouse in Boston." Ibid., p. 73. 

89 In Connecticut, Governor John Cotton Smith "inclined toward a policy of 
bounties and exemptions by the state, especially in the case of household 
manufactures, or those allied with agriculture. The Assembly of May, 1817 
. . . exempted cotton and woolen factories from taxation for four years, and 
their employees from a poll tax or militia service." Purcell, Connecticut in 
Transition, p. 136. 

In Massachusetts "[a]griculture secured the assistance of ^4 for the head 
of each crop-destroying wolf. In 1786, 1788, and 1791 laws granted a bounty 
for the production of hemp [which benefited shipping] farmers who raised 
it, the rope-makers, and the merchants. A similar subsidy went to the manu- 
facture of sailcloth, duck, and twine in Boston in 1788 and 1791 . . ." 

Variations on the bounty were the state's "occasional loans to enterprises, 
such as that of ^300 to Benjamin Shepard for the manufacture of cotton 
goods in Wrentham. It freed from taxation the Boston glasshouses and cotton 
factories in Worcester and Rehobeth and elsewhere for periods of from 
five to ten years. Breweries which turned out one hundred barrels annually 
received the identical concession to encourage the production of the healthful 
beverage, create a product for export, and supply a market for farmers. Salt 
and sugar works had the same advantage held out to them for a time." 
Handlin and Handlin, Commonwealth, p. 84. 

50 America as a New Nation 

tion of bridges, aqueducts, and mills, all of which interfered in some 
way with public waterways and fishing rights. The building of dams 
flooded adjacent lands and diverted water from natural channels. 

Without the state's tolerance, builders faced unlimited responsibility 
for damages. To encourage industry, the government generously 
dealt out such franchises. ... All franchises included an element 
of privilege, permitting to a few, as special assistance in a worth- 
while enterprise, what was forbidden to all. 90 

While applying the techniques of inspection, lotteries, bounties, and 
franchises, the states soon found the granting of charters to new corpo- 
rations the most successful means of promoting economic development, 
for the "coercive power of assessment . . . gave the corporation a more 
efficient fund-raising mechanism." 91 Consequently, the states' most im- 
portant promotional policy became that of chartering business corpora- 
tions. "After . . . [the Revolution] charter policy gradually established 
itself as one of the primary concerns of American state governments and 
expanded steadily through the pre-Civil War epoch." 92 

The granting of bank charters was closely linked with developments in 
transportation. "This was due to an established legislative practice which 
frequently incorporated into bank charters requirements for assisting 

Ibid., pp. 76-78. 

**Ibid., p. 105. Between 1792 and 1800 there were twenty-three incorporations 
granted for bridge construction. "Charters for bridges ... all contained the 
essential power to levy assessments and the lucrative franchise to take toll. In 
return the legislature imposed well-defined conditions: completion in a limited 
period, and construction in accordance with specified plans, the slightest 
change in which needed the consent of the General Court. . . . The patron 
state, having set up these rules, was, however, indulgent in administration. 
When the original tolls seemed insufficient to sustain dividends it often made 
gifts of land, raised the rates, extended the building time and the duration 
of the franchise. 

"The urge for improvement also led to considerable canal building. The 
inland communities valued better water communications to bring farmers 
nearer markets and to facilitate transportation of lumber. Merchants [also] 
sought easier navigation on the great interstate rivers." Ibid., pp. 113-115. 
92 Louis Hartz, Economic Policy and Democratic Thought: Penwylvania, 
1116-1860 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1948), p. 38. "Be- 
tween 1790 and 1860, apart from incorporations under general laws, the 
Pennsylvania legislature granted 2,333 charters for business purposes. . . . 
Well over half of the business charters granted by special act of the legis- 
lature from 1790 to 1860 were concerned with transportation." Loc. cit. 

Establishing National Authority 5 1 

specified transportation companies. Such assistance usually took the form 
of stock subscriptions, loans, or outright grants of money." 93 

Most of the early corporations were for religious or charitable 
organizations or for road, bridge, canal, bank and insurance com- 
panies. ... In all some 557 manufacturing companies were in- 
corporated in eight states between 1800 and 1823, Massachusetts and 
New York being far in the lead. . . . Before 1860 nearly all the 
states had general incorporation statutes. 94 

Direct government financing of economic activities which required 
large sums of capital occurred in many states. During the first thirty or 
forty years of the nineteenth century, the states created a funded debt 
of more than two hundred million dollars, "a larger debt than that cre- 
ated by any government for purely industrial purposes." 95 Internal 
improvements, particularly turnpikes and canals, constituted the most 
general area of direct state intervention. Virginia, Maryland, New York, 
Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Ten- 
nessee, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan were among the states which used 
their financial resources for such purposes. 96 Railroads also were built 
with government support in many states. And many banks were formed 
with governmental help. "Almost from the first introduction of banks 
into this country, it became a common practice for the State govern- 
ments to invest revenue in bank stock." 97 

93 It reached its apogee in the charter granted to the Second Bank in 1835 
which called for stock subscriptions ". . . amounting to $675,000 for 10 
transportation companies and provided for grants of financial assistance to 
12 others, totaling $139,000." Ibid., pp. 46-47. "Banks were [also] compelled to 
lend sums to the state, usually in amounts up to 5% of capital stock at 5% if 
requests for such loans were made. The charter granted to the Bank of 
Pennsylvania, the first state bank to be incorporated, required it to lend to 
the state $500,000 at interest not to exceed 6% for the purpose of establish- 
ing a loan office for the assistance of farmers. The revenue to be derived 
from both the bonus and the loan policies became especially attractive during 
the thirties when monetary needs for construction of public works rocketed, 
and there is little doubt that the banking overexpansion of that period is in 
some measure traceable to them." Ibid., p. 55. 

94 Shannon, America's Economic Growth, p. 210. 

95 G. S. Callender, "The Early Transportation and Banking Enterprises of 
the States in Relation to the Growth of Corporations," Quarterly Journal of 
Economics, 17 (1902), p. 114. 

96 Ibid., pp. 112-113. 

97 Ibid., pp. 113-114. 

52 America as a New Nation 

In Pennsylvania, a state under one-party Democratic control for the 
first thirty-five years of the nineteenth century, there was considerable 
direct government intervention in the form of public ownership of 
transportation facilities and banks. The state encouraged the growth of 
credit facilities by investing heavily in bank stocks between 1800 and 
1815. Similarly, a number of turnpike, canal, and navigation companies 
were owned jointly by the state and private investors. With the coming 
of railroads, Pennsylvania added railway stock to the list of companies 
in which it had investments. Local governments, counties, and cities 
invested even more heavily than did the state in such businesses. "Total 
municipal and county investments between 1840 and 1853 were estimated 
at fourteen million dollars over twice the state investment at its 1843 
peak." 98 Direct public ownership occurred as well in many of these 
areas. Thus Pennsylvania built and owned the first railways along the 
main line." 

For the first forty years of Pennsylvania's existence as a state within 
the Union, there was little argument over the propriety or even necessity 
of direct state participation in ownership as a means of facilitating 
economic development. In effect, as in many contemporary new nations, 
Pennsylvania and other American states followed a policy of government 
investment in areas basic to economic growth where private efforts 
seemed inadequate. The doctrine of "laissez-faire" became dominant only 
after the growth of large corporations and private investment funds 
reduced the pressures for public funds. 

The record of Virginia was similar to that of Pennsylvania. In 1816 it 
established a Fund for Internal Improvements and a Board of Public 
Works which played an important role in creating various enterprises 
up to the Civil War. The Board shared ownership with private investors 
of various canals, turnpikes, railroads, and banks. Some railroads such as 
the Blue Ridge and the Covington and Ohio were built totally with 
state funds. By 1860, the Fund held assets of forty million dollars. 100 

In Georgia, the state invested in a number of banks; for example, it 
owned two-fifths of the stock of the Bank of the State (1815), half the 
capital of the Bank of Darien (1818), and many others. It also held stock 
in many turnpike companies, and in the few canal ventures. Perhaps the 
largest form of state investment in Georgia was in railroads. The Western 

98 Hartz, Economic Policy and Democratic Thought, p. 88. 

*Ibid., p. 145. 

1W> Carter Goodrich, "The Virginia System of Mixed Enterprise," Political 

Science Quarterly, 64 (1949), pp. 355-387. 

Establishing National Authority 53 

and Atlantic was built entirely with state funds, while the Atlantic and 
Gulf was primarily owned by the state and two cities. All told, between 
1835 and 1860 public investment in railroads amounted to almost thirteen 
million dollars, more than the total of private investment 101 

A similar situation existed in New York where the outstanding example 
of direct intervention was the construction and operation of the Erie 
and Champlain canals. The story of how this project was originally 
financed through the state's sale of canal stock to small investors, and 
the working people's Bank for Savings, is a fascinating one. 102 Of even 
greater interest is the indirect facilitation of economic development 
which grew out of investment made by local banks in which the toll 
revenues of the Canal Fund were deposited. 103 "The Canal Fund became 
a development bank less by design than by dint of circumstances." 10 * 
Only after several attempts to remove their deposits from banks without 
sufficient notice created difficulties did the Commissioner of the Canal 
Fund realize the heavy reliance of local economies on these publicly 
controlled deposits. Agricultural and salt manufacturing interests as well 
as the completion of the Tonawanda Railroad depended upon them. 105 
During the railroad building era, many lines were built in New York 
with large state and city investments. 106 

Local governments, especially cities, also played a major role in foster- 

101 On these activities see Milton S. Heath, Constructive Liberalism: The 
Role of the State in Economic Development in Georgia to 1860 (Cambridge, 
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1954). For a similar story in Missouri, see 
James N. Primm, Economic Policy in the Development of a Western State: 
Missouri 1820-1860 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1954). 

102 Only in the later stages, when the project was obviously headed for suc- 
cessful completion, was the stock absorbed by wealthy New Yorkers and 
English capitalists. See Nathan Miller, The Enterprise of a Free People: 
Aspects of Economic Development in New York State during the Canal 
Period 1792-1838 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1962). 

103 "Little did the comptroller realize when he negotiated with the banks in 
1826 that he was taking the first step in the creation of a mechanism which 
would introduce the revenues of the Canal Fund into the channels of business, 
so that eventually their influence in the economy would be felt from one 
end of the state to the other." Ibid., p. 116. 

10 *7*a., p. 263. 

105 Ibid., pp. 146-151. Of interest also are the Canal Commissioners' deliberate 
programs for alleviating the economic panics of 1834 and 1837 and the crisis 
after the great fire of 1835. 

106 Henry Pierce, Railroads of New York: A Study of Government Aid, 
1826-187? (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953). 

54 America as a New Nation 

ing economic development. To elaborate further on their activities is 
not necessary here. It may be noted, however, that Cincinnati owned a 
major railroad, while Baltimore was an extremely important investor in 
the Baltimore and Ohio and other lines. 107 In New York state 315 
municipalities were involved in the construction of railroad lines. 108 In 
Pennsylvania, cities and counties contributed far more to railway con- 
struction than did the state. 109 "The major portion of the stock issued 
by Missouri's state aided railroads in the 1850's was sold to counties and 
municipalities." 110 

The story of state and local investment in early economic development 
in the United States clearly justifies the conclusion that government in 
this period played a role corresponding to that envisaged in most new 
nations today. The need for large sums of investment capital in a new 
and as yet undeveloped economy could only be met domestically from 
government sources. And given the commitment and need of new states 
to develop economically, the American political leaders found the argu- 
ments to justify state intervention, even if they were different from those 
popular today. A reviewer of various recent works by economic historians 
dealing with economic development on the state and local level sum- 
marizes the conclusions to be drawn from these studies: 

[These studies suggest] a new view of American capitalism in its 
formative years. . . . [T]he elected official replaced the individual 
enterpriser as the key figure in the release of capitalist energy; the 
public treasury, rather than private saving, became the major source 
of venture capital; and community purpose outweighed personal 
ambition in the selection of large goals for local economies. "Mixed" 
enterprise was the customary organization for important innovations, 
and government everywhere undertook the role put on it by the 
people, that of planner, promoter, investor, and regulator. 111 

107 See Carter Goodrich, "Local Government Planning of Internal Improve- 
ments," Political Science Quarterly, 56 (1951), pp. 411^45; and Carter Good- 
rich and Harvey Segal, "Baltimore's Aid to Railroads: A Study in the 
Municipal Planning of Internal Improvements," Journal of Economic History, 
13 (1953), pp. 2-35. 

108 Pierce, Railroads of New York. 

109 Hartz, Economic "Policy and Democratic Thought, p. 86. 

110 Primm, Econoimc Policy in the Development of a Western State, p. 106. 
For Iowa see Earl S. Beard, "Local Aid to Railroads in Iowa," Iowa Journal 
of History, 50 (1952), pp. 1-34. 

111 Robert A. Lively, "The American System: A Review Article," The 
Business History Review, 29 (1955), p. 81. 

Establishing National Authority 55 

Rapid economic growth during this formative period in our economy- 
benefited not only from assistance by the states themselves, but perhaps 
even more from the massive foreign capital furnished the new nation 
by outside investors, particularly British. There is a definite parallel 
between the dependence of contemporary new nations on external funds 
and the conditions which facilitated development here: 112 

England was the principal source of loans to American enterprise, 
both direcdy . . . through the purchase by Englishmen of stock in 
American banks or railways, as well as indirectly through the pur- 
chase by English investors of American State bonds, the proceeds 
of which in large measure were employed in the furtherance of 
"internal improvements." 113 

The dependence of American expansion on foreign capital was to be 
seen in all areas of economic development: trade, internal improvements, 
banking, agriculture, and industry. Jenks has summarized the story: 

[The wholesale merchants of the Yankee drygoods houses, who 
handled the import trade at the Atlantic ports in the antebellum 
period] could not trade adequately with their own capital. The[se] 
Yankee firms depended to a large extent in their buying upon credits 
which came, directly or indirectly, from such firms as Barings 

112 ]jy igo5 the coupons paid through Barings [Bros., London] represented 
a nominal capital of 5,747,283. This sum included, besides the unpaid debt of 
the United States abroad, at least seven million dollars in the stock of the 
First Bank of the United States. As the debt, foreign and domestic, was 
paid off British holdings diminished. The extinction of the Bank in 1811 and 
the War of 1812 reduced to 1,500,000 the amount upon which Barings 
paid dividends. . . . 

"A more progressive movement set in after the war. In 1817 and 1818 
temporary loans of bullion were made to the Second Bank of the United 
States. They became the basis of a permanent investment in the stock of that 
institution which in 1820 amounted to nearly three million dollars. Another 
million was added to this amount by 1828, and the total was doubled during 
the next three years. Out of 300,000 shares in private hands in July, 1831, 
79,159 were held abroad by 466 shareholders. . . . Meanwhile part of the 
American public debt had returned abroad. Fourteen million dollars of it 
were owned by British investors in 1828, five millions by other European 
creditors." Leland Hamilton Jenks, The Migration of British Capital to 1815 
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927), p. 66. 

113 W. B. Smith and A. H. Cole, Fluctuations in American Business, 1790- 
1860 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1935), p. 42. 

56 America as a New Nation 

. . . promoter-politicians, who perceived the advantages, whether 
public or private, which could accrue from the building of high- 
ways, canals and railroads, turned to foreign capital, filtered thru 
the public treasuries for support. . . . State-owned and state-con- 
structed the Erie Canal was financed by the issue of New York 
state bonds. Something over seven million dollars' worth were sold 
between 1817 and 1825, and they passed almost at once into the 
hands of Englishmen. 

Before 1836 over ninety million dollars had been invested in 
canals and railways in the North, of which more than half was a 
charge upon public credit. The bulk of this capital had been 
procured from England. 

. . . British capital which promoted transportation and westward 
expansion indirectly financed industry as well. American merchants 
and banks could draw credits for objects unspecified, and these 
were available in the United States for the expansion of industry. . . . 
It mil not be far 'wrong to estimate the total quantity of British 
capital invested in the United States during the thirties as ap- 
proxifnately equal to the indebtedness incurred by the several 

It should be noted that the willingness of English holders of capital 
to invest heavily in American economic development was not unrelated 
to the governmental policies which fostered the growth of industry. 
Government sponsorship was fostered by the need for large sums of 
capital, since both domestic and foreign investors were often not willing 
to expend the large sums necessary for speculative and unknown ventures 
in distant lands. 

The only securities that could do this were public securities, or the 
securities of corporations which were guaranteed or assisted by the 
government. . . . Accordingly, we find that English foreign invest- 
ments in the early part of the nineteenth century were made chiefly 
in public securities. The stock and bonds of private corporations 
formed in foreign countries, unless endorsed by the government, 
played but a very small part on the London stock market until 
after the middle of the century. 115 

The Migration of British Capital to 1815, pp. 68, 73, 75, 77, 85. 
(Emphasis mine.) See also Frank Thisdethwaite, The Great Experiment 
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1955), pp. 71-78. 
115 Callender, "The Early Transportation and Banking Enterprises . . . ," 
op. cit. y pp, 152-153. 

Establishing National Authority 57 

And the legislation which gave corporations various governmental pro- 
tections, referred to earlier, fostered the trans-Atlantic migration of 

[T]he fact that the privileges of incorporation were much more 
easily acquired in America than in England in the first half of the 
[nineteenth] century gave certain types of American industry 
readier access to nonindustrial savings and indeed, it was sometimes 
said, gave them readier access even to English "blind capital" than 
English industrialists themselves enjoyed. 116 

But if the activities of state governments and foreign investors con- 
tributed to economic growth, the rapidity of that development must 
also be credited to a particularly productive, symbiotic relationship 
between economic growth and the American value system. The existence 
of a set of values that enshrined "the good life" as one of hard, continuous 
work, frugality, self-disciplined living, and individual initiative provided 
the necessary ideological framework for making use of foreign capital 
for long-range industrial development. 117 Also, the weakness of aristo- 
cratic traditions meant that the United States was free to develop a 
dominant economic class of merchants and manufacturers whose passion 
for the accumulation of wealth was unfettered by values that deprecated 
hard work and the concentration of capital. The rationale for concen- 
trating national resources and energies on such pursuits violated the 
anti-urban, agrarian Utopia of the Jeffersonians, but it was defended on 
nationalistic grounds. The prospect of spiritual and economic domination 
at the hands of European manufacturers was viewed as especially degrad- 
ing since this group was presided over by a "devilish class of aristocrats" 
to whom were attributed all kinds of corruptions, from immoral leisure 
to extravagance and intellectual cunning: 

Convinced, on the whole, of an identity between moral and material 
progress, these industrialists, while not averse to profits, were 

116 H. J. Habakkuk, American and British Technology in the Nineteenth 
Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1962), p. 71. 

117 These two factors, the Protestant Ethic and foreign investment, can be 
viewed as functional substitutes for present day socialist ideology and 
foreign aid. Incidentally, it is becoming increasingly common to see Marxism, 
Communism, or Socialism fulfilling in the twentieth century what the 
Protestant Ethic did for Western Europe and North America in the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that is, fostering motivation for work 
and economic development. 

58 America as a New Nation 

conscious of making a patriotic contribution and of trying to estab- 
lish a pattern in manuf actoring for the nation. . . . 

The rising tide of nationalism stimulated by the American Revo- 
lution and the War of 1812 made it popular to justify American 
manufacturing on the ground of economic independence. Such 
pleas for a national economic independence, however, usually 
pointed to the horrifying alternative of a moral and spiritual as well 
as economic prostration at the feet of the manufacturers of Europe. 
Though these public pronouncements may have functioned con- 
sciously as convenient rationalizations of economic interest . . . the 
same ideas appeared again and again in their private letters and 
journals, when they had no need for propaganda. To them European 
manufacturing, on the whole, not only seemed degrading to char- 
acter; it was presided over by a devilish class of aristocrats. . . . 

Belief in the existence of a conspiratorial European devil led also 
to the patriotic contrast of honestly made American manufactures 
with reputedly fraudulent European goods. 118 

Foreign visitors to the United States were struck, from its earliest days, 
with the greater emphasis on materialism here, on economic gain, as 
contrasted to that present in Europe, including even Britain. A detailed 
analysis of the writings of English travelers in America from the end of 
the Revolution to the age of Jackson sums up the evidence: 

At this period, the Americans already had the reputation for 
being a money-loving and money-getting people. So universal was 
this belief that it is with surprise that we see any denial of it. ... 
[T]he enterprise of the Americans could not be charitably at- 
tributed to a dread of future want, nor did it seem to most English- 
men that they were consciously actuated by a "desire to obtain 
distinction by means of wealth". . . . Flint said that it was security 
of property and the high profits on capital that tended to promote 
this disposition. Fowler attributed the eagerness to accumulate to the 
fact that in the absence of titles and all acknowledged distinctions 
in rank, wealth constituted the primary basis of contrast between 
individuals. At any rate, this trait became to foreigners an integral 
part of the American nature. 119 

Given the absence of a traditional aristocratic class, and the with- 
drawal into Canada of many of those who most sympathized with such 

118 Charles L. Sanford, The Quest for Paradise: Europe and the American 
Moral Ima&mmon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961), pp. 158-163. 

119 Jane L. Mesick, The English Traveller in America, 1185-1835 (New 
York: Columbia University Press, 1922), pp. 309-310. 

Establishing National Authority 59 

a societal model, the entrepreneur became a cultural hero and rapid 
growth followed. Canada, on the other hand, though possessing many 
of the same material conditions as the United States, did not develop 
as rapidly or as strongly. The combination of foreign rule and a different 
class model apparently had negative effects on its potentialities for 
development. And the new states of nineteenth century Latin America, 
led by traditional Catholic oligarchies drawn mainly from the landed 
aristocracy, were even more backward economically. They retained 
many of the pre-industrial values of the Iberian Peninsula. Latin America 
lacked a dynamic business class, a Protestant work ethos, and an ideologi- 
cal commitment to economic modernization. 

The emergence of a functioning polity in the first half-century of 
American independence was accompanied by rapid economic growth 
and territorial expansion. 120 

The United States gradually acquired legitimacy as a result of being 
effective. There was no question that the new nation worked, that its 
economy had "taken off," to use Walt Rostow's image. 121 Henry Adams, 
in his great history of the early years of the republic, saw these 
economic developments as crucial in guaranteeing the survival of the 
country as a viable unit: 

12 "Beginning with the Louisiana Purchase, the United States entered upon 
an era of growth which, within less than two generations, pushed her borders 
to the Pacific Ocean. This startling expansion came by stages, to be sure, 
but it was always championed by the popular party of the day; first by the 
Republicans, then by Democrats. The conservative party, Federalist or Whig, 
consistently opposed the acquisition of new territory. . . . From the begin- 
ning, however, the opponents of American expansion were running counter 
to popular feeling. The sentiment of the country was 'expansionist.' . . . 
[T]he real cause of the War of 1812 lay not in anything the British had or 
had not done, but rather in the aggressive temper of the War Hawks, who, 
backed by their frontier constituents, coveted new lands from Canada to 
Florida." John R. Bodo, The Protestant Clergy and Public Issues 1812-1848 
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954), p. 193. (See also p. 205 
for documentation of the conservative opposition to the expansionist wars.) 
121 "In 1784, a traveller tells us the exports from the United States amounted 
to $4,000,000, the imports to $18,000,000; by 1790, the former had increased 
to $6,000,000 while the imports were now valued at $17,260,000. An exami- 
nation of Bristad's statistics reveals the fact that, beginning with 1791, the 
export trade increased steadily. By 1816 it had reached $81,920,452, in spite 
of two setbacks during the Long Embargo and the second war with Great 
Britain. In 1825, according to Harriet Martineau, the exports represented a 
value of $3,000,000 more than the imports, which were estimated at $96,- 
000,000; while by 1835, the imports were $126,000,000 as against $104,- 
000,000 in exports." Mesick, The English Traveller in America, p. 183. 

60 America as a New Nation 

The results of the sixteen years [1800-1816], considered only in the 
economical development of the Union, were decisive. Although 
population increased more rapidly than was usual in human experi- 
ence, wealth accumulated faster. . . . 

These sixteen years set at rest the natural doubts that had at- 
tended the nation's birth. . . . Every serious difficulty which seemed 
alarming to the people of the Union in 1800 had been removed or 
sunk from notice in 1816. ... This result was not the only or even 
the chief proof that economical progress was to be at least as rapid 
in the future. . . . The continent lay before them, like an un- 
covered ore-bed. They could see, and they even could calculate 
with reasonable accuracy the wealth it could be made to yield. 122 

It is important to recognize that a basic condition for acquiring 
legitimacy in a new state is effectiveness, particularly in the economic 
sphere. In return for support, the populace demands from its leaders 
rewards, some symbolic in content, such as national heroes and prestige, 
and others, perhaps more important, of a tangible nature. This is true 
today; it was true in America a hundred and fifty years ago. As Denis 
Brogan has well said: 

The first and almost the last rule is that the rulers must deliver the 
goods, that they must share some of the winnings of the game with 
their clients, with the great mass of the American people, and that 
these winnings must be absolutely more than any rival system can 
plausibly promise. I have used the word "clients" advisedly, for the 
rulers of America have not the advantage of some of their European 
brethren, the advantage of a patina of age. 123 

m Henry Adams, History of the United States During the Administration 
of Jctmes Madison (New York: Albert and Charles Boni, 1930), Book IX, 
pp. 172-173. An analysis of the writings of foreign travelers before the Civil 
War reveals that most of them then described "the essential pattern of 
modern mass production." Summary of unpublished paper by Marvin Fisher, 
"The Uniqueness of American Industrialization, as Reported by European 
Observers, 1830-1860"; discussed by Eric Larrabee, "The Doctrine of Mass 
Production," in Robert Spiller and Eric Larrabee, eds., American Perspectives 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961), p. 207. 
123 D. W. Brogan, American Themes (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1948), p. 

a National 


In addition to laying the institutional framework for a stable polity, 
there was the task of proving to the populace that the system could 
establish America as a nation. But by what standards was its growth 
toward nationhood to be judged? We have seen that gaining economic 
independence was one of them. But even here there was little agree- 
ment as to what economic course the nation should follow. As Chambers 
points out: 

There was, indeed, irony in the economic position of both parties. 
The general ideological theme of the Federalists was conservative 
and traditionalist, whereas new parties in later emerging nations have 
been radically innovative and anti-traditionalist. On the other hand, 
Federalist economic policy was highly innovative and modernist, 
emphasizing government action toward an advanced, industrial capi- 
talist society again, however, contrary to the often anti-capitalist 
attitudes of new nations in the twentieth century. The Republicans 
were post-Enlightenment and anti-traditionalist in political ideology, 
but still largely wedded to agrarian economic conceptions in a pre- 
industrial economy conceptions that the American nation with 
its already comparatively prosperous agricultural economy could 
afford, but which stood in sharp contrast to the intense drives for 
industrialization in new nations today. 1 

1 William N. Chambers, Parties in a New Nation (New York: Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1963), p. 102. 

<52 America as a New Nation 

The Federalist and the Democratic-Republican economic policies only 
appear contradictory to their political ideologies in the light of com- 
parisons with new nations today. When viewed within their own context, 
each of their political and economic ideologies forms a coherent but 
different kind of nationalism. On the one hand, the Federalists were 
saying that America as a nation should be just as powerful as England. 
In so doing they accepted her economic as well as some of her political 
standards of nationhood. On the other hand, the Democratic-Republicans 
were saying that America as a nation was already, in its own way, just as 
good as England. They therefore lauded and sought to maximize what 
was unique both in American political ideals and in the American 

The Federalists' and the Democratic-Republicans' views represented 
two poles of an ambivalence toward the Mother Country that is char- 
acteristic of all new nations. The need to dissociate themselves from 
any deep identification with their former imperialist ruler, or with any 
major foreign power, is characteristic of all new states. All new nations 
must establish their own identities. But along with a self-conscious effort 
to establish a separate identity, which usually leads to a rejection of all 
things associated with the Mother Country, there continues to exist a 
deep-rooted admiration for its culture and values. So that on the one 
hand, the former colonial power is hated as an evil imperialist exploiter 
or "monarchical" conspirator, and on the other hand, it is emulated and 
admired as the representative of a superior civilization. 

The Need for Autonomy and Neutrality 

Perhaps a consideration of this ambivalence will lead to a better under- 
standing of the positions taken by "new" nations relative to those 
international crises in which the "old" nations are involved. In the 
contemporary world, we have witnessed the rise of "neutralism" as the 
dominant tendency among the new nations of Asia and Africa. This 
concept of non-alignment has proved frustrating to the contenders in the 
Cold War who see the struggle as one between freedom and tyranny. 
They cannot understand why nations which have just won their own 
independence can be so blind to an international struggle involving the 
issue of freedom. And the new nations' tactics of selling their support 
to the highest bidder by playing the non-Communist bloc off against the 
Communists is regarded as a highhanded display of blatant self-interest. 

Formulating a National Identity 63 

Placing the issue in these terms ignores the fact that nations are 
inherently egotistical, and that they act in terms of what they believe 
will enhance national growth and survival. 

The United States, in the early years of its independence, exhibited 
a similar equivocalness. It began life as a unified nation about the same 
time that Britain and France started their almost twenty-five-year-long 
conflict stemming from the French Revolution. The behavior of the 
United States toward these nations was often inconsistent. The leaders 
of both American factions, the Republicans and the Federalists, desired 
above all else to keep the young nation out of the war. 2 But each faction 
had a specific bias to its "neutrality." 

In 1793, when France declared war against England, the latter strongly 
urged the United States to declare its neutrality. At this point, Jefferson 
firmly opposed any declaration of neutrality, arguing that the President 
did not have the power to do so. 3 Hamilton, on the other hand, "was 

2 "[H]owever much the members of Washington's cabinet may have dis- 
agreed on most questions, they were all thoroughly convinced that the United 
States must avoid war as long as possible, whatever the cost. They differed 
widely in their views on the best way of doing this; so widely, in fact, that 
each member at times thought his opponents insincere in their protestations 
of neutrality. If even an impartial observer chanced to read only certain 
portions of the works of either man he might get the impression that 
Jefferson would have welcomed war with England or that Hamilton was 
ready for a rupture with France. . . . Washington was the only member of the 
Executive Department in 1793 who approached . . . [the] point of true 
neutrality. If he had a preference there is no record of his having expressed 
it. With Jefferson and Hamilton it was a question of honestly trying to 
maintain an actual neutrality in spite of those predilections that were often 
expressed by each, within the inner circle of his friends. Jefferson was 
convinced that the fate of the American experiment was bound up with the 
success of the French. . . . Hamilton . . . wished to preserve the neutrality 
of his country although he was as partial to England as Jefferson was to 
France." Charles M. Thomas, American Neutrality in 1193 (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1933), pp. 14-18. 

*Ibid., pp. 35-37. The argument revolved around an existent treaty with 
France, that of 1778. Hamilton argued that the treaty "should be suspended or 
nullified. He based his contention on the principle that the treaty which had 
been negotiated with the French monarchy was no longer binding, since the 
French had altered their form of government by the establishment of a 
republic. Jefferson replied . . . that the treaty was 'not between the United 
States and Louis Capet, but between the two nations of America and France; 
and the nations remaining in existence, though both of them have since 
changed their forms of government,' the treaty was not annulled by such 
changes." Here Jefferson applied "his theory of the sanctity of international 

64 America as a New Nation 

strongly in favor of the issuance of such a proclamation." 4 Five years 
later, in 1798, when the French ordered the confiscation of all American 
ships bound for England and closed French ports to any American 
ships that had visited an English port, the Federalists assumed a bel- 
ligerent stance, passed legislation creating a standing army, increased 
armaments, and enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts designed to repress 
criticism of the government in time of crisis, while the Jeff ersonians 
discovered the virtues of neutrality. 

Despite these ideological differences, however, the leaders of both 
factions throughout this period were determined to keep out of the war. 
Hamilton, though bitterly anti-French, worked to restrain his Federalist 
friends from going to war with France. During the subsequent Demo- 
cratic-Republican administration, Jefferson stubbornly ignored British 
provocations; and the United States, by declaring an embargo and 
ordering its ships not to go into war ports, did everything possible to 
keep clear of the conflict. 

War did, of course, finally come in 1812. The pressure for American 
entry into war did not come so much from the specific annoyances 
imposed by Britain, but rather reflected the growth of nationalist 
sentiment, particularly among the new western states. 5 Indeed, the 
weakness of the United States in this war was due to the lack of 

agreements under all circumstances save 'impossibility' or 'self-destruction/ 
and asserted that in this case the obligations could be claimed, at worst, 
merely to be 'dangerous'. . . . They were not dangerous [however], since 
France had made no demand that the United States join in the war. . . . 

"Monroe . . . writing to Jefferson, announced himself an advocate of peace 
'against every invitation to war.' He would ignore . . . the insults and irrita- 
tions of Britain and Spain. He would wish to help France in any way short 
of war. But 'to expose ourselves to their fury (i. e., the provocations of Euro- 
pean nations) would be as imprudent' as for a man in health to expose himself 
to a lunatic. 'To preserve peace will no doubt be difficult, but by accomplish- 
ing it, we show our wisdom and magnanimity. . . .' On the other hand, he 
could not conceive upon what principle the right to issue the neutrality 
proclamation was claimed." Stuart Gerry Brown, The First Republicans 
(Syracuse, N. Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1954), pp. 96-98. 

4 Thomas, American Neutrality in 1193, p. 38. 

5 The westerners wanted to press the Indian farther west, and ultimately to 
secure Canada, both as a means of reducing Indian strength and of enlarging 
American territory. To many, the continued presence of British rule on 
North American soil meant that the Revolution was not complete. See D. R. 
Anderson, "The Insurgents of 1811," Annual Report of the American His- 
torical Association, 1911 (Washington: 1913), Vol I, pp. 173-174; and Julius W. 
Platt, The Expansionists of 1812 (New York; Macmillan, 1925), pp. 133-153. 

Formulating a National Identity 65 

unanimity behind the war effort, 6 and it showed the danger of talcing 
a new nation into war before effective national unity had occurred. 

All in all, it can be said that American foreign policy during these 
first couple of decades was essentially expediential. It threatened war at 
one time or the other with both sides, and it sought to capitalize on the 
weaknesses of both sides by taking their territories in America (Louisiana, 
Florida, and Canada). Ideological alignment with the French Republic, 
ancestral solidarity with Britain, opposition to the conquest of all Europe 
by Napoleon these played little role in determining our ultimate policy. 
It can even be said that in order to "liberate" Canada, we finally ended 
the period in alliance with the tyrant who had destroyed the French 
Republic and sought to subordinate all of Europe and Britain to his will! 

Basically, our early foreign policy followed the principles laid down in 
the Federalist, in a section written by Alexander Hamilton. He insisted 
that permanent peace between the nations was a Utopian goal, that all 
nations are and must be self-interested in their foreign policy, and that 
America should remain out of overseas conflicts that do not touch on its 
direct interests and should "aim at an ascendant in the system of American 
affairs." These principles were to appear anew in Washington's Farewell 
Address of 1796, 7 written in large part by Hamilton, and finally in the 
Monroe Doctrine of 1823, in which John Quincy Adams ". . . was 
personally a power ... in laying down uncompromisingly" its three dicta 
which included the principle of Abstention. This policy of ". * . 
Abstention from the 'ordinary* vicissitudes and 'ordinary' combinations 
and collisions of European politics and wars" made possible the justifica- 
tion of a policy concerned with establishing the United States' manifest 
political destiny in its own hemisphere. 

Sensing America's advantage from Europe's distress [John Quincy 
Adams] peaceably broke through the paper trammels of Old World 
imperialism in the empty western stretches of North America. 
Diplomatically he carried the ball of American Empire . . . across 

6 In their remaining New England strongholds, the Federalist merchants ' Vere 
able to convince themselves that Jefferson, and Madison were sold to 
France. . . . The Federalist members of Congress issued an Address to their 
constituents . . . which declared the war to be unnecessary and inexpedient." 
Henry Adams, History of the United States During the Administration of 
James Madison (New York: Albert and Charles Boni, 1930), Book V, pp. 

7 For an elaboration of the forces affecting early American policy see Felix 
Gilbert, To the Farewell Address: Ideas of Early American Foreign Policy 
(Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1961), especially pp. 111-136. 

66 America as a New Nation 

the boreal plains over the Rocky Mountains down through the 
continuous woods that veiled the Oregon, to establish republican 
sovereignty impregnably on the Pacific Coast beyond the reach of 
further European colonization. 8 

The "neutralism" of early American foreign policy, like that of many 
contemporary new states, was of extreme importance in reducing some 
of the internal tensions which might serve to break down a weak 
authority structure. Many Republicans would have refused to support 
a war against the French Republic in 1798. Although the Federalist 
party was near death in 1812, some of the states which it controlled in 
New England openly sabotaged the war effort. And the subsequent 
heavy immigration from all parts of Europe in the latter part of the 
nineteenth century reinforced these neutralist tendencies, since it gave 
rise to ethnic pressure groups that reacted sharply to American policies 
which affected their homelands. It is interesting to note that the one 
stable multi-national European state, Switzerland, has defended its historic 
neutralism on the grounds that any other policy would have made it 
impossible for the Swiss nation to survive, as a nation. The Swiss 
Minister of Foreign Affairs has argued that: "As a community 
composed of various ethnic, linguistic and denominational groups, the 
Confederation could not participate in European national and religious 
quarrels without running the risk of disintegration. Without neutrality, 
. . . Switzerland would hardly exist today." 9 

Though few of the new states are divided internally among ethnic 
groups which have national or cultural ties to external power blocs, they, 
like the young United States, have been divided as to whom they should 
be "neutral against." And many leaders of such states take the same 
position that Jefferson and Hamilton did in the 1790's. They may hope 
for the victory of one or the other side, or for a stalemate, but they 
feel that as a new nation, with the need to secure a legitimate structure 
of authority and rapid economic development, they must abstain from 
involvement in "foreign entanglements." 

The Role of the Intellectuals 

In the new states of the twentieth century, the intellectuals have been 
the innovators, the agents of social change. It is they who introduced the 

8 Samuel F. Bemis, John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American 
Foreign Policy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949), pp. 567-568. 
8 Cited in F. E. Aschinger, "The United States and European Neutrals," 
Swiss Review of World Affairs, 12 (1962), p. 15. 

Formulating a National Identity 67 

ideas of nationhood, democracy, and equality to the populace. Not only 
do they bring new values into tradition-bound systems, but they head 
nationalist movements and are the leaders in the tactics of revolution. 
Thus they impose the ideas within which the nation may find its identity. 
As Edward Shils has put it: 

It was the intellectuals on whom, in the first instance, devolved 
the task of contending for their nations' right to exist, even to the 
extent of promulgating the very idea of the nation. The erosion 
of the conscience and self-confidence of the colonial powers was in 
considerable measure the product of agitational movements under 
intellectual leadership. The impregnation of their fellow-country- 
men with some incipient sense of nationality and of national self- 
esteem was to a large extent the achievement of intellectuals, both 
secular and religious. . . . 10 

Shils suggests that because of the relatively small number of intellectuals 
in new states, "all persons with an advanced modern education" must be 
considered as falling within the intellectual class. And given the limited 
social need for creative artists and writers, university teachers, high 
ranking civil servants, and others, he argues that the legal profession has 
been the most important occupation open to those with higher education. 
The effort to apply "old country" law to colonies has led to a great deal 
of litigation. "The leisure time of the young lawyer was a fertile field 
in which much political activity grew. . . . [Tjhe legal profession sup- 
plied . . . many of the outstanding leaders of the nationalist movements 
during colonial times, and . . . the lawyer-intellectuals form ... a vital 
part of the political elites of the new states." 11 

The nationalistic, revolutionary intellectuals are usually young men. 
They are often antagonistic toward the older generation, who are more 
closely identified with the status quo and who often do not share the 
young intellectuals' nationalistic vision because they are better estab- 
lished in local political and social hierarchies. The young intellectuals' 
more nationalistic philosophy may come from a more cosmopolitan 
perspective. Thus, in discussing the extremist national movements in 
Asia and Africa, Shils points out that they "drew inspiration and comfort 
from abroad [and] felt that their actions were one with a mighty surge 
all over the world. . . . This sense of being a part of the larger world 
infused into the politics of the second [younger] generation the perma- 

10 Edward Shils, "The Intellectuals in the Political Development of the New 
States" (mimeographed, 1962), pp. 3-4. 

11 Ibid., pp. 14-15. 

68 America as a New Nation 

nently bedeviling tension between province and metropolis, and added, as 
it always does, the heat which arises pom conflicting loyalties." 12 

Their political antagonism to the powers that be may also come from a 
sense of frustration because they have no place in the old society. Their 
new values do not coincide with those that would place them in honored 
positions in the old local hierarchies. These values are encapsulated in an 
ideology, and the ideology the intellectuals espouse is that of populism. 
"The people" are possessed of some kind of sacred mystique, and 
proximity to them endows the politician with esteem and with legiti- 
macy. "The people are a model and a standard; contact with them is 
good. Esteem and disesteem are meted out on the basis of 'closeness to 
the people* or distance from them. . . ." 13 

The nationalist intellectuals in new states are inclined to espouse 
populism because, either lacking connection with or being disaffected 
from the existing power hierarchies, their only source of power lies in 
the people. However, their populism is derived also from their ambiva- 
lence toward more developed nations. In attempting to establish a national 
identity, they feel they need to play up those elements that make their 
nation unique. They may try to overcome their own feeling of cultural 
inferiority by rejecting the premises of "culture" in the more developed 
countries and lauding the values in their own culture on some other 
grounds. These values are often seen to reside in the common people 
rather than in the upper classes who have been more frequently exposed 
to foreign cultures. Thus the cult of populism arises, the "belief in the 
creativity and in the superior moral worth of the ordinary people, of the 
uneducated and the unintellectual." 14 

Their populist ideology, however, does not lead the intellectuals to 
any real understanding or appreciation of, or even to an egalitarian 
attitude toward, the people. By definition, the intellectuals' backgrounds 
are very different from those of the people with whom they are con- 
cerned. Their life has been very different from that of the common 
man, so that their understanding of his ways can only be an idealized 
one. As a result, 

. . . despite this preoccupation with the "people" the populism of 
the intellectuals of underdeveloped countries does not necessarily 
bring with it either intimacy with the ordinary people, a concrete 

12 Ibid ., p. 27. (Emphasis mine.) 

u Ibid., p. 39. 

14 Edward Shils, "The Intellectuals and the Powers: Some Perspectives for 

Comparative Analysis," Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1 (1958), 

p. 20. 

Formulating a National Identity 69 

attachment to them or even a democratic attitude. It is compatible 
with them but it does not require them. 

Populism can be the legitimating principle of oligarchic regimes, 
as well as of democratic regimes and of all the intermediate types. 
The people constitute the prospective good to be served by govern- 
ment policy. 15 

The intellectuals of the new states are not destined to become 
philosopher-kings. After independence, the emergence of mass politics 
sees the rise to prominence of politicians and administrators who tend 
to be more professional than intellectual. Having undergone the exhilarat- 
ing experience of playing a major role in the creation of their nation, 
many intellectuals withdraw in disillusion from active politics. 16 The 
resulting tensions between them and the governing elite lead them to 
feel "spurned and disesteemed in the new state, for the coming of which 
they had worked and dreamed." 17 

If we turn from these generalizations about the new nations of our 
own century to the young United States, it is interesting to note the 
parallels. In both eras, the chief nationalist leaders were men who 
combined scholarship with action. They introduced the ideology of 
independence and equality and then campaigned on its behalf. In the 
early United States, the intellectuals played a major role in applying the 
doctrine of natural rights to the Americans' claims for independence. And 
not content to merely supply ideas, many took an important part in 
establishing the new nation itself. 18 

15 Shils, "The Intellectuals in the Political Development . . . " op. cit., p. 41. 

16 Edward Shils, "Influence and Withdrawal: The Intellectuals in Indian 
Political Development," in Dwaine Marvick, ed., Political Decision-makers 
(New York: The Free Press, 1961), p. 30. 

17 Edward Shils, "Political Developments in the New States," Comparative 
Studies in Society and History, 2 (1960), p. 276. A similar process in the 
development of western revolutionary movements is described in Harry J. 
Benda, "Non- Western Intelligentsias as Political Elites," in John H. Kautsky, 
ed., Political Change in Underdeveloped Countries (New York: John Wiley, 
1962), pp. 250-251; see also Harry J. Benda, "Intellectuals and Politics in 
Western History," Bucknell Review, 10 (1961), pp. 1-10. 

is "The Constitutional Convention of 1787 has been called the first American 
brain trust. At least thirty-one of the fifty-five members had been educated at 
colonial colleges or at similar institutions abroad. Many, including Franklin, 
had become first-rate scholars and scientists by their own efforts. Two uni- 
versity presidents and three college professors sat in Independence Hall. . . . 
Many others had been 'schoolmasters.'" Merle Curti, American Paradox: 
The Conflict of Thought and Action (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Uni- 
versity Press, 1956), pp. 15-16. (Emphasis mine.) 

70 America as a New Nation 

Richard Hofstadter has described the intellectuals' role as follows: 

When the United States began its national existence, the relation- 
ship between intellect and power was not a problem. The leaders 
'were the intellectuals. . . . The Founding Fathers were sages, 
scientists, men of broad cultivation, many of them apt in classical 
learning, who used their wide reading in history, politics, and law 
to solve the exigent problems of their time. 19 

And as in the contemporary new states, many of these political intel- 
lectuals were also trained as lawyers. "Of the fifty-six signers of the 
Declaration of Independence, twenty-five were 'lawyers'; of the fifty- 
five members of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, thirty-one 
were lawyers'; in the first Congress, ten of the twenty-nine Senators 
and seventeen of the sixty-five Representatives were lawyers.' " 20 Daniel 
Boorstin, in citing these figures, makes a point similar to that of Shils 
when he says that "this does not show the importance of a specialized 
legal profession in the making of our nation," but rather "the vagueness 
of the boundary between legal and all other knowledge in a fluid 
America." 21 

America was more fortunate than contemporary new states in that the 
European cultural values with which its intellectuals identified were not 
very different from those held by the majority of the population. In 
contemporary new nations, the young intellectuals are likely to be 
alienated from their own society because they feel drawn to cultures 
which speak a language foreign to most of the citizens of these societies. 
The writer or scholar in a former part of the British or French empire 
still seeks recognition from London or Paris. 22 But young America's intel- 

19 Richard Hofstadter, Anti-IntettectuaKsm in American Life (New York: 
Alfred A. Knopf, 1963), p. 145. 

20 Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Colonial Experience (New York: 
Random House, 1958), p. 205. 

21 Loc. cit. 

22 See Immanuel Wallerstein, Africa, Politics of Independence (New York: 
Vintage Books, 1961), p. 65, and Edward Shils, "Metropolis and Province in 
the Intellectual Community," in V. M. Dandakar and N. V. Sovani, eds., 
Chcm&ng India (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1961), pp. 283-284. Shils 
has described the situation generally: "[The Western intellectual outlook] 
exercised an irresistible fascination on certain strata of the societies outside 
the European centre, and the situation was not made any easier to bear by 
the often explicit derogation of their own culture and society which its ad- 
mirers encountered ... in the works and attitudes of intellectuals of the foreign 
culture to which they were attracted. 

"This feeling of intellectual inferiority vis-a-vis the West still exists in the 

'Formulating a National Identity 71 

lectuals, too, had a sense of cultural inferiority vis-H-vis the European 
metropolitan cultures. For eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American 
intellectuals, London and other European capitals were the centers 
which had to be impressed. 23 Only Europe's learning, literature, art, and 
higher education were viewed as good while America's the product of 
"colonials and provincials" were viewed as inferior. 24 

As has been already pointed out, such attitudes may foster anti-intel- 
lectualism and populism among nationalists in new nations. Some of the 
intellectuals in America have shown a soaring "belief in the creativity and 
in the superior moral worth of the ordinary people," just as do intellec- 

underdeveloped countries, and indeed in almost all areas of the world outside 
the European centre. It survives in the Soviet Union, it was common in the 
United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and is not en- 
tirely dead there. Among the more backward totalitarian countries and among 
the intellectuals of the pluralistic underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa, 
it is very strong. The fascination by the Western intellectual outlook has, in 
the main, been strongest in those sections of the population which also have 
become fervently nationalistic. (These two conflicting attachments are very 
closely connected with each other.)" Edward Shils, "The Prospects for In- 
tellectuals," Soviet Survey, No. 29 (1959), p. 86. 

23 A study of the reactions of American travelers in England in the first 
half century of American independence reports that "the leaders of American 
thought looked to the mellow and long-established cultural institutions of 
England with longing, and struggled to learn and to imitate. ... [I]n educa- 
tion, art, and literature American eyes were thus turned to the older orders. 
This was more true in literature than in almost any other aspect of cultural 
life." Robert E. Spiller, The American in England During the First Half 
Century of Independence (New York: Henry Holt, 1926), pp. 387-388. 
A study of American artists during this period makes the same point. Re- 
turning painters "brought home with them the belief that they were minor 
workmen who would never create great art. No deep intellectual conviction 
lay behind the American vernacular tradition." James T. Flexner, The Light 
of Distant Skies, 1760-1835 (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1954), pp. 64-65. 
See also Bradford Perkins, Prologue to War (Berkeley: University of Cali- 
fornia Press, 1961), p. 97. 

24 "Even now, when American intellectual life is at the height of its powers, 
large numbers of American intellectuals in all fields feel towards Britain 
and especially towards Oxford, Cambridge and London what Roman 
intellectuals in antiquity often felt toward Athens. Some sort of feeling of 
inferiority to a culture of greater refinement, greater subtlety, greater pro- 
fundity, still persists even among those who almost deliberately cultivate 
a populistic 'grass-roots' attitude. In the United States, too, provinciality is 
despite the tremendous changes of fortune still a wound. The intellectuals 
still struggle to escape its pain." Shils, "Metropolis and Province . . . ," op. 
cit., p. 289. 

72 America as a New Nation 

tuals in latter-day new states. 25 Even Thomas Jefferson could write: 
"State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will de- 
cide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been 
led astray by artificial rules." 26 And the great historian George Bancroft 
"rhapsodized over Jackson's unschooled mind" as an asset which would 
enable him to bring greater wisdom to the presidency than those who 
were "versed in books/' 27 
But as is well known, the leadership of the intellectuals in new states 

25 ShiIs, "The Intellectuals and the Powers . . . ," op. cit., p. 20. The great 
abolitionist political leader Charles Sumner revealed all the seeming incon- 
sistencies of a politically involved intellectual from a "provincial" country. 
"He spent a good deal of his time abroad being embarrassed for his country 
and for his countrymen. . . . When compared with Great Britain, Sumner 
concluded, the United States was lamentably lacking in culture. . . . American 
colleges were shockingly deficient when compared to European universities. 
. . . By European standards, the professions in the United States were ill- 
trained. . . . Even the use of language in the United States was slovenly, 
Sumner complained, when a great writer like Longfellow could in the middle 
of a beautiful poem 'commit that Americanism Side-Walk? " Yet at the 
same time, on his trip abroad "he had, apart from enjoying British society, 
only one purpose, to promote 'the diffusion of the writings of any American 
calculated to inspire respect . . . [for] liberal institutions.' [H]e secured the 
publication of the first serious article devoted to Emerson in a British periodi- 
cal. . . ." And less than a decade after his youthful visit to England and 
Europe, Sumner was justifying his abolitionist politics and hopes with extreme 
populist statements. David Donald, Charles Sumner, and the Coming of the 
Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960), pp. 59-60, 60-61, 180-182. 
(Emphasis in original.) 

26 Cited in Hofstadter, Anti-lntellectualism in American Life, p. 155. 

27 Ibid., p. 159. "In all these [contemporary new] countries the intellectuals 
have developed anxiety about whether they have not allowed themselves to be 
corrupted by excessive permeation with the admired foreign culture. To 
identify themselves with the people, to praise the culture of the ordinary 
people as richer, truer, wiser, and more relevant than the foreign culture in 
which they had themselves been educated, has been a way out of this distress." 
Shils, "The Intellectuals and the Powers . . . ," op. cit., pp. 20-21. The negative 
image of America fostered in the writings of many educated European con- 
servatives is documented by Merle Curti, "The Reputation of America Over- 
seas, 1776-1860," in his Probing Our Past (New York: Harper & Bros., 1955), 
pp. 191-218. American writers were extremely sensitive to such criticisms, 
especially to negative reviews in British journals. And some replied with 
populist answers: "In the bitter literary war, champions of America declared 
that if English letters could boast greater triumphs than the United States, 
at least there was no snobbish literary aristocracy in the new country. . . . 
Meantime a stout patriot insisted that if Americans were not yet capable of 

Formulating a National Identity 73 

does not survive the first revolutionary generation. 28 The change in Amer- 
ican political life was associated with the rise of party politics. 29 The 
passions which emerged with the beginnings of partisan conflict in the 
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were accompanied by 
the use of anti-intellectual imagery by both major factions. Jefferson, in 
particular, was attacked by Federalists as an ideologue whose dangerous 
politics reflected his preoccupations with ideas and abstract principles. 
And various liberals criticized the "learned and property-holding classes," 
suggesting that their learning might be used against the common people. 30 
Finally the explicit anti-elitism of the Jacksonian movement, followed by 
the adoption of populist tactics by both major parties, meant that the in- 
tellectual could participate in politics only at his peril. 31 

The depreciation of abstract intellectual activities, of art for art's sake, 
of the contribution which intellectuals can make to political life, has also 
been stimulated in new states, both recent and past, by the commitment to 
practical economic and social development. The desire to catch up and 
surpass the former imperialist power has meant that "impractical pursuits" 
must be given low priority in the values both of politicians and of intel- 
lectuals themselves. 32 

writing books of theory, they contrived to anticipate in practice the contents 
of those produced abroad several years before their appearance!" Curti, 
op. cit., p. 200. See also Flexner, The Light of Distant Skies, pp. 231-234, 236. 

28 This stands in need of some qualifications. In new states there are obviously 
still many intellectuals working as technicians and civil servants in the govern- 
ment bureaucracy. The intellectuals have been rejected, however, as a major 
political stratum who wield influence as a "class." 

29 Dixon Ryan Fox, The Decline of Aristocracy in the Politics of New York 
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1919). 

30 Hofstadter, Anti-lntellectualism in American Life, p. 152. 

31 "The first truly powerful and widespread impulse to anti-intellectualism in 
American politics was, in fact, given by the Jacksonian movement. Its dis- 
trust for expertise, its dislike for centralization, its desire to uproot the en- 
trenched classes, and its doctrine that important functions were simple enough 
to be performed by anyone, amounted to a repudiation not only of govern- 
ment by gentlemen which the nation had inherited from the eighteenth cen- 
tury, but also of the special value of the educated classes to civic life." Ibid., 
pp. 155-156. 

32 Beaumont caught the spirit of this aspect of early American life: "Hardly 
was the American nation born when public and industrial life absorbed all its 
moral energy. . . . The Americans have too many political interests to trouble 
themselves with literary ones. . . . 

"In America, the sciences are valued only for their applied uses. They 
study the useful arts but not the fine arts. . . . 
"American literature is entirely lacking in good taste that refined, subtle 

74 America as a New Nation 

As we have noted, intellectuals play an important role in most new na- 
tions in formulating the objectives and rationale of the struggle for inde- 
pendence. But after independence, leftist and populist ideologies, and 
an emphasis on practical pursuits as most useful in an "underdeveloped" 
society, press the intellectuals to withdraw from effective group par- 
ticipation in politics. And their concern with the "good opinion" of the 
elite of the former metropolitan power may even lead them to depreciate 
the achievements of the nation which they helped bring into being. For 
new nations are not only populist and pragmatic; they are also provincial. 
The resulting tension between the intellectuals and the dominant forces 
in the new nation may constitute a handicap in formulating an effective 
national self-image. Thus, all new nations face the problem of in- 
corporating their intellectuals into their polities. 

Revolution as the Source of National Identity 

In most post-colonial nations, it is revolutionary ideas, not conservative 
ones, that are associated with the national image. 33 And ever since the 

restraint, that delicate sentiment which results from the mixture of passion 
and cool judgment, enthusiasm and reason, spontaneity and design, which 
prevails in literary composition in Europe. To have elegance in taste, one 
must first have elegant customs. . . . 

"Thus literature and the arts, instead of being invoked by the passions, come 
only to the aid of necessity. . . . 

"And do not try to please . . . [Americans] by saying that the identity of 
language unites all the fine minds of England with those of America; they 
will reply that English literature has nothing whatever in common with 
American literature. . . . 

"No one in America understands that completely intellectual life which 
sets itself up beyond the realm of the practical world and feeds on dreams, 
speculations, and abstractions; that nonobjective existence which shuns busi- 
ness affairs, for which meditation is a necessity, science a duty, literary 
creation a delightful pastime, and which, seizing upon the riches of antiquity 
and the treasures of today, taking a leaf from the laurels of Milton as from 
those of Virgil, makes the genius and glory of all the ages enhance its own 
richness." Gustave de Beaumont, Marie, or Slavery in the United States 
(Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1958), pp. 107-115. 
^Amitai Etzioni has argued that in Israel and most contemporary new 
states "left-of-center ideologies and groups have stronger political, economic 
and prestige positions than the right and liberal forces. ... To be a Social 
Democrat in Israel and the same holds for many of the newly developed 
countriesmeans to be in conformity with the majority of the politically 

Formulating a National Identity 75 

beginning of the modern era, revolutionary nationalism has tended to in- 
corporate within itself supra-national ideas. As Karl Deutsch has put it: 

Behind the spreading of national consciousness there was at work 
perhaps a deeper change a new value assigned to people as they are, 
or as they can become, with as much diversity of interlocking roles 
as will not destroy or stifle any of their personalities. After 1750 we 
find new and higher values assigned in certain advanced countries 
to children and women; to the poor and the sick; to slaves and peas- 
ants; to colored races and submerged nationalities 

National consciousness thus arises in an age that asserts birth- 
rights for everybody, inborn, unalienable rights, first in the lan- 
guage of religion, then in the language of politics, and finally in 
terms involving economics and all society. . . . 

Once men formed a people, once they acquired many objective 
characteristics of nationality, they would become aware of what had 
happened. If this new awareness should come to them in the midst 
of a cultural and spiritual change, a change in the fundamental strat- 
egy of values, teaching them a new pride and a new confidence in 
what they were and in their own kind or teaching them a hunger 
for this kind of pride and confidence not yet attained then this new 
consciousness of nationality would become a potential center for 
patterns of individual and social behavior, and of political action. 34 

When Americans celebrate their national heritage on Independence 
Day, Memorial Day, or other holidays of this sort they dedicate them- 
selves anew to a nation conceived as the living fulfillment of a political 
doctrine that enshrines a Utopian conception of men's egalitarian and fra- 
ternal relations with one another. In linking national celebrations with 
political events and a political creed, the United States resembles such 
other post-revolutionary societies as France, the Soviet Union, or many of 
the new states. Nations whose authority steins from traditional legitimacy, 
on the other hand, tend to celebrate holidays linked with a religious tra- 
dition or a national military tradition, not with a political doctrine as such. 

These differences in the sources of the national self-image should affect 
the character of political life, particularly in the early stages of the evolu- 

conscious members of society." "Alternative Ways to Democracy: The 
Example of Israel," Political Science Quarterly, 74 (1959), pp. 213-214. 
34 Karl Deutsch, Nationalism and Social Covtmunication (New York: John 
Wiley, 1953), pp. 153-155. (Emphasis in original.) 

76 America as a New Nation 

tion of systems of democratic authority* 35 In societies based on traditional 
legitimacy, there has been a congruence among a conservative respect for 
the existing pattern of social and political organization, national symbols, 
and the stratification system. Value consensus sustained these elements as 
an interrelated whole. When such societies developed economically, new 
classes were created, the bourgeoisie and the workers, who had no initial 
political rights and were subordinate to the old aristocracy and the mon- 
archy. As these new classes became politically conscious, developing val- 
ues based on their needs as socially inferior groups, they faced the prob- 
lem of reconciling these new values with the dominant cultural norms 
that supported the political and social position of the old elites. In large 
measure, the general cultural norms strengthened conservative beliefs 
among all strata and reduced the strength of those factors making for 
left-wing predispositions. One finds generally that parties upholding tra- 
ditional values not only retain the support of a large majority of the 
privileged strata, but that a considerable section of the depressed classes 
also retain their loyalty to the existing order. As Bagehot suggested in 
discussing England, where traditional class values have not been destroyed 
by revolution, habits of deference will help to maintain the polity. 36 

In newly independent societies there has often been a transition from a 
system dominated by traditionalist, usually aristocratic values, to one char- 
acterized by egalitarian populist concepts. These new value systems are 
variously referred to as "liberal," "democratic," or "leftist" in contrast to 
"elitist," "conservative," or "aristocratic." The elitist ideology takes for 
granted the desirability of the hierarchical ordering of society in which 
those who belong to the "naturally superior" strata exercise due authority 
and are given generalized respect. Social recognition rests on the sum of 
all the qualities of a person's status rather than on a given role he may be 
playing. In colonial situations, the native elites derive their status, or are 
protected in it, by virtue of their connection with the status and power of 
the foreign ruler. And with independence, the values of hierarchy, aris- 

35 A study of the American Tories in the Revolution concludes: "If there 
were any serious consequences to America from the silencing and expulsion 
of the Loyalists, they were certainly not social or, in the narrow sense, 
political consequences. Rather they were philosophical consequences: the 
Tories' organic conservatism represented a current of thought that failed to 
reappear in America after the Revolution. A substantial part of the whole 
spectrum of European social and political philosophy seemed to slip outside 
the American perspective." William H. Nelson, The American Tory (New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 189-190. 

3e Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution (London: Oxford University 
Press, 1928), p. 141. 

Formulating a National Identity 77 

tocracy, privilege, primogeniture, and (more recently) capitalism, all asso- 
ciated with the foreign imperialist power, are easily rejected* 

Consequently, most struggles for independence have employed leftist 
ideologies, that of equality in revolutionary America, that of socialism in 
the contemporary new states. Man's status is to depend not upon inherited 
but upon achieved qualities; hence the system must be geared to abolish 
all forms of privilege and to reward achievement. The franchise is to be 
extended to everyone, the people being regarded as the source of power 
and authority; and various social reforms, such as economic development, 
the elimination of illiteracy, and the spread of education, are to reduce 
inequalities in status. We have seen how the need to legitimate the demo- 
cratic goals of the American Revolution made mandatory a commitment 
sharply to improve the economic circumstances of the mass of the popula- 
tion, even though the struggle for independence was conceived by many 
of its leaders as primarily concerned with the issue of political independ- 
ence. And in general, although many of those involved in a nationalist 
movement may have been conservatives on most matters other than that 
of foreign domination, the need to mobilize support against the ruling 
oligarchy forces evensjthe conservative nationalists to use the leftist vo- 
cabulary of the tim^JVery revolutionary group proclaims "all men to be 
equal," to have "inalienable rights," or advocates a "classless society" and 
the elimination of minority rule in politics. 

However, beneath this consistency of radical temper, there are pro- 
found differences in the ways in which various parties or strata interpret 
their revolutionary commitments. In the United States after the adoption 
of the Constitution, the conservative and socially privileged groups who 
had taken part in the anti-imperialist revolution continued to play a major, 
even dominant, role. This resembles the immediate post-independence 
political situation in Pakistan, Ceylon, Morocco, and others of the Arab 
states, where conservative elites have held the reins of government. Al- 
though formally committed to carrying out the social and humanitarian 
objectives of the nationalist revolution, the conservatives have attempted 
to resist the institutional elaboration of these goals. The American Fed- 
eralists, though convinced advocates of views which were radical and 
republican by the standards of European states, sought to limit the appli- 
cation of egalitarian principles in such fields as property relations, religion, 
and the suffrage. 87 But as in most of the contemporary new states in which 

37 "The Federalists recoiled at the prejudice and violence of the masses, 
declaring that incompetence could not be trusted . . . [T]hey expressed open 
contempt. . . ." John Bassett, The Federalist System (New York: Harper & 
Bros., 1906), p. 295. The Federalists of New Jersey appealed in 1800 as the 

78 America as a New Nation 

conservatives have tried to defend traditionalist values after independence, 
the right-wing party soon lost office. 

The defeat of the conservatives in the early political conflicts in new 
states usually results in a situation comparable to that in which "leftists" 
have established the nation. National identity and left-wing values are 
intertwined. The purpose of independence is perceived to be the creation 
of a new and more radical society than that which has existed. In the 
United States, the end of Federalism meant that henceforth all American 
political parties were to be egalitarian in overt ideology and populist in 
tone. The extension of adult suffrage solidified such sentiments. The dom- 
inant "one party," the Democratic-Republicans, ruled, as has been noted, 
without effective national opposition until the 1830*s. 38 A historian of 
Pennsylvanian affairs explains this phenomenon in terms which apply, in 
large measure, to most other states: 

[TJhe most acute students of Pennsylvania history agree that Demo- 
cratic supremacy is to be explained largely in ideological terms. It 
was supported by the evocative power of certain dogmas which re- 
versed die party allegiance ... a power deriving in large measure 
from the early inception of virtual manhood suffrage. The mass base 
of political life in Pennsylvania meant that equalitarian slogans al- 
ways had a profound, even mystical appeal there. The vaguest at- 
mosphere of aristocracy was a decisive political handicap. . . , 89 

Although conservative groups in most new nations are deprived of the 
link with historic national values which they have in old states, there is at 

party of " 'wealth and talent' . . * [asking] 'whether to continue our govern- 
ment in the hands of men opposed to untried theories and dangerous inno- 
vations and attached to the existing order of things or whether we will 
abandon it to the direction of those whose conduct, whose writings, whose 
views are revolutionary.' It was the question whether the abler few should 
direct the many who were unstable, irrational and likely to be disorderly and 
destructive." Walter Fee, The Transition -from Aristocracy to Democracy in 
New Jersey, 1789-1827 (Somerville, N.J.: Somerset Press, 1933), p. 107. A 
Federalist broadside described their opponents as "*the discontented the 
ambitious the unprincipled and the disappointed of our countrymen,' " to- 
gether with various kinds of foreigners. Ibid., p. 111. 

S8 In the elections of 1824 and 1828, all candidates for President were 
nominally members of the same party. 

39 Louis Hartz, Economic Policy and Democratic Thought: Pennsylvania, 
1776-1860 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1948), pp. 23-24; 
see also Philip S. Klein, Pennsylvania Politics, 1817-1832 (Philadelphia: His- 
torical Society of Pennsylvania, 1940). 

Formulating a National Identity 79 

least one traditional institution with which they may identify and whose 
popular strength they may seek to employ: religion. The leftist nation- 
alist revolutionaries, in their desire to remake their society, often perceive 
traditional religion as one of the great obstacles; attitudes and values 
which are dysfunctional to efforts to modernize various institutions are 
usually associated with ancient religious beliefs and habits. And the efforts 
by the leaders of new states to challenge these beliefs and habits serve 
to bring them into conflict with the religious authorities. 40 

A look at the politics of contemporary new nations indicates that in 
many of them religion has formed the basis for conservative parties. Thus 
in Indonesia, two Moslem parties, Masjumi (Indonesian Moslem) and 
Nahdlatul-Ulama (Moslem Teachers) secured almost half (40 per cent) 
of the votes in the one election in that country. 41 These parties were sub- 
sequently dissolved by the Nationalist governing party. In India today, a 
conservative party, the Jana Sangh, has arisen to defend Hindu values. In 
Pakistan, the Moslem League, organized to foster Islamic principles and 
also the party which established the nation, lost power after Independ- 
ence; but it remained as the major conservative group until parties were 
dissolved. Similarly in most of the Arab states, conservative politics and 
the Islamic religion have been closely intertwined. The situation is more 
complicated in most of the Negro African states, since there is no 
dominant national religion in many of them. In fact, where Christianity 
is strong, it faces the problem of being identified with the former colonial 
rulers. Islam has, however, formed die basis for conservative groupings 
in parts of Nigeria. 

In the United States, the various efforts to sustain or create conservative 
parties in the early decades of the republic were closely tied to religion. 
The picture here, however, was clearly not one of religion versus irreli- 
gion, since the "dissenting sects," such as the Methodists, the Baptists, and 
the Catholics, all opposed the privileges of the established churches the 

40 "The only reference to religion [in the Constitution] is contained ia the 
provision that 'no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to 
any Office or public Trust under the United States.' This omission, represent- 
ing . . . the rationalistic tendency somewhat popular among the rather 
youthful public men who dominated the convention, roused a good deal 
of protest and the absence of any reference to divine authority was one of 
the points made against accepting the document." Roy F. Nichols, Religion 
and American Democracy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 
1959), pp. 36-37. 

41 A Review of Elections 1954-1958 (London: The Institute of Electoral 
Research, 1960), p. 67. 

80 America as a New Nation 

Congregationalists in New England, the Episcopalians in the South. The 
Democrats received considerable support from the former in their ef- 
forts to eliminate the tie between Church and State. Faced with the diffi- 
culty of combatting the political left on most social and political issues, 
the conservatives, whether religious or not, quickly saw the political po- 
tential of an identification with religious institutions and morality. Arthur 
Schlesinger, Jr., has well described their reactions: 

Federalism . . . mobilized religion to support its views of society. At 
the very start, many conservatives, with the discreet skepticism of 
eighteenth century gentlemen, considered religion indispensable to 
restrain the brute appetites of the lower orders but hardly necessary 
for the upper classes. As * . . the clergy loudly declared Jeffersonian 
deism to be a threat, not only to themselves, but to the foundations 
of social order, conservatism grew more ardent in its faith. In 1802 
Hamilton, seeking desperately to rejuvenate the Federalist party, 
suggested the formation of a Christian Constitutional Society with 
the twofold purpose of promoting Christianity and the Constitution. 42 

With the growing strength of the Jeffersonians, dubbed irreligious 
Deists by their opponents, the religious conservatives, largely of Calvinist 
persuasions, banded together to form a number of moralistic organizations 
"to save men from folly, vice, and sin." 43 By winning men to the path of 

^Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (Boston: Little, Brown, 
1946), p. 16. Tocqueville has pointed out how, in France, first the upper 
class and later the middle class returned to religion when they recognized 
that they needed it to stabilize a post-revolutionary society in which deference 
values no longer operated to sustain lower class loyalty. "The Revolution 
of 1792, when striking the upper classes, had cured them of their irreligious- 
ness; it had taught them, if not the truth, at least the social usefulness of 
belief. This lesson was lost upon the middle class, which remained their 
political heir and their jealous rival; and the latter had even become more 
sceptical in proportion as the former seemed to become more religious. The 
Revolution of 1848 had just done on a small scale for our tradesmen what 
that of 1792 had done for the nobility: the same reverses, the same terrors, 
the same conversion, . . . The clergy had facilitated this conversion by ... 
[professing] republican opinions, while at the same time it gave to long 
established interests the guarantee of its traditions, its customs, and its 
hierarchy." Alexis de Tocqueville, The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville 
(London: The Harvill Press, 1948), p. 120. 

43 Clifford S. Griffin, Their Brothers' Keepers (New Brunswick, N.J.: 
Rutgers University Press, 1960), p. 43. 

Formulating a National Identity 81 

righteousness, they would also guarantee their vote for Federalist prin- 

Perhaps the first major example of this reaction was the temperance 
movement which developed in the early years of the nineteenth century. 
To a considerable extent this movement was dominated by members of 
the Federalist upper class and Congregationalist ministers. The downfall 
of the party and the disestablishment of the Church faced them with 
the need to explain their defeats. And they found their explanation in the 
low cultural level of the common man, his drunkenness and lack of 
education. The drive against alcohol became part of the "Puritan Counter- 
Reformation." 44 "The early temperance advocates of New England, for 
example, were so strongly Federalist in their political affiliations that 
Federalism and temperance became entangled in public thinking." 45 

Early temperance efforts were combined with labors for morality in 
general. They arose not only to check drunkenness and other evils; 
but also to rescue the Federalist party from threatened destruction. 
. . . The Federalists reasoned that if they could wean men from 
profanity, vice, and inebriation, the former sinners would be amena- 
ble to changing their political allegiance. 46 

The left and the right in early America disagreed on the extent to 
which the United States was even to be viewed as a Christian nation. 
Thus, not only did the Jeff ersonians seek to eliminate all forms of state 
support for the established churches; they went so far on the national 
level as to insist that the State was obligated to provide services for its 
citizens seven days a week that, for instance, it could not deprive non- 
Christians of their right to receive mail on Sundays. In 1810, Congress 
passed a law providing for the Sunday delivery of the mails. The religious 
and political conservatives replied by agitation to support the Lord's Day. 
This issue was to remain alive for many decades. In 1825, Congress 
extended the provisions for Sunday mails. And in 1829, the Democratic 

44 John A. Krout, The Origins of Prohibition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 
1925), pp. 83-100; David M. Ludlum, Social Ferment in Vermont, 1191-1850 
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), p. 65; Joseph Gusfield, "Status 
Conflicts and the Changing Ideologies of the American Temperance Move- 
ment," in David Pittman and Charles R. Snyder, eds., Society, Culture, and 
Drinking Practices (New York: John Wiley, 1962), pp. 105-106. 

45 Alice Tyler, Freedoitfs Ferment (Minneapolis: The University of Minne- 
sota Press, 1944), p. 317. 

46 Griffin, Their Brothers? Keepers, pp. 36-37. 

82 America as a New Nation 

majority replied to the agitation against this kw by endorsing the report 
of a Senate Committee which stated as a matter of national policy that 
religion and irreligion had equal rights, that laws setting aside Sunday 
as a special day of rest worked an injustice on non-Christians. 47 

Issues concerning the place of religion in society played a major role in 
structuring the revived two-party system which formed around sup- 
porters and opponents of Andrew Jackson. One of the first efforts to 
organize an anti- Jackson party, the Anti-Masonic party, which was to 
become one of the major constituent elements in the Whig party, sought 
to bring together those who favored an alliance between Church and 
State. And the Whig party took over this task: 

Battlegrounds shifted over time, but the lines drawn in the 1830's 
between the "Church and State party" and the "Jackson party" held 
fast. Struggles over Sunday laws, the sustained effort to open 
public assemblies with prayer, Jackson's refusal to act against 
Georgia for imprisoning missionaries to the Cherokees on these 
and Eke issues, party differences were distinct, passionate, and 
enduring. 48 

The northern Whig spokesmen, like the Federalists before them, gave 
voice to the values of the dethroned Puritan Establishment. They argued 
that the State was a proper instrument to eradicate moral evils such as 
gambling and "grogselling." The religious sentiments that underlay the 
Federalist and Whig moralistic concerns may be seen in the activities 
. of Lyman Beecher, who as a key figure in the Congregationalist Church 
also was involved successively in Federalist, Whig, and later Republican 
politics. He, like many others of the New England theocrats: 

sought to reestablish a clerically dominated social order by means of 
voluntary social and moral reform societies that would give the 
dergy an influential role in forming public opinion and molding 
public legislation. The many "benevolent societies" of the [Jack- 
sonian] period, which sought to evangelize the unchurched, to save 
the heathen, to sober the drunkard, to rescue the wayward female, 
to purify the Sabbath, to end dueling, to inaugurate Sunday Schools, 

47 See John R. Bodo, The Protestant Clergy and Public Issues 1812-1848 
(Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1954), pp. 39-43; Anson Phelps 
Stokes, Church and State in the United States (New York: Harper & Bros., 
1950), Vol. II, pp. 12-20. 

4S Lee Benson, The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy (Princeton, NJ.: 
Princeton University Press, 1961), p. 196. 

Formulating a National Identity 83 

and to send freed slaves back to Africa . . . [were composed largely 
of] the ministers and leading laymen and women of the Con- 
gregational churches. 49 

The party struggle was clearly not between religion and irreligion, 
although apparently most free-thinkers and their organizations backed 
the Democrats while the very devout, particularly among the older once- 
established groups, backed the Whigs. 50 There was, however, consider- 
able congruence between the Jacksonian concern for secular egalitarian- 
ism and the struggle against the domination of a theocracy in religion. 
As McLoughlin puts it: "Here was the essence of the quarrel between the 
Whigs and the Jacksonians: the fight against aristocracy and privilege in 
politics had a clear parallel in religion." 51 

While religious and moralistic issues do provide conservative parties 
in new nations with a popular appeal, they have not usually proven 
sufficiently strong to permit such parties to hold or win power demo- 
cratically. Hence many of these parties also adhere to some variant of a 
socialist program. And the situation in the early United States was 
somewhat analogous. The Federalists had failed in their efforts to sustain 
a party which defended aspects of inequality, and their successors sought 
to learn from their errors. 52 When conservatism revived as a political 
force in the form of Whig opposition to Andrew Jackson, it had a 
distinctly "new look." In attacking Jackson, the tribune of the plebs, the 
new conservatives tried to fix the label of royalist and Tory on him; 
while it was the term Whig, the title of the opposition to Toryism and 
royal absolutism in Britain, that was taken by the American conservatives 
fighting "King Andrew." 68 

49 William G. McLoughlin, Introduction to Charles G. Finney, Lectures on 
the Revivals of Religion (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, 1960), p. xviii. 

50 Benson, The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy, pp. 198-207. 

51 McLoughlin, Introduction to Finney, p. xix. 

62 Clinton Rossiter, Conservatism m America (New York: Vintage Books, 
1962), pp. 117-119. 

53 "The historian of the Whig party in Pennsylvania recognizes that the weak- 
ness of the party was traceable mainly to a vague aristocratic reputation which 
it had, not to the specific points in its program. The Whigs themselves knew 
this. They tried to steal their opponents* equalitarian thunder by branding the 
Jacksonian administration itself as Tederalisf an epithet which, as Joseph 
Hopkinson bitterly said, was sufficient by itself to ruin political careers and 
by claiming to be the true party of Jefferson.'* Hartz, Economic Policy and 
Democratic Thought, pp. 24-25. 
Whig editor Horace Greeley "began publication of a paper called the 

84 America as a New Nation 

One of the major elements which went into forming the new Whig 
party was the Anti-Masonic party, an anti-elitist group which had emerged 
in the kte 20's to fight the presumed influence of a Masonic cabal, of 
which Andrew Jackson was thought to be a member. The complete su- 
premacy of egalitarian values in politics may be seen by the Whig 
behavior in the Presidential elections of 1840, incidentally the first such 
contest they were able to win: 

Harrison and Tyler were selected as the party candidates. . . . 
Webster was rejected on ... [the] ground he was "aristocratic." 
This consideration showed how completely the old order had 
changed. The men of wealth well realized, now that liberty and 
equality had shown their power, that in enthusiastic profession of 
fraternity lay their only course of safety. Property rights were 
secure only when it was realized that in America property was 
honestly accessible to talent, however humble in its early circum- 
stances. The Whigs found it useful to disavow as vehemently as they 
could any and all pretensions to a caste superiority in political 

A fierce rivalry in simplicity sprang up between the parties. 
Charles Ogle, of Pennsylvania, made a speech in Congress arraigning 
President Van Buren as a sybarite, who drank Madeira wine, and 
had made a palace of the people's White House by his enormous 
expenditures for decoration. This speech, spread throughout the 
country, was the Whigs' most effective tract. . . . They circulated 
drawings of the President, pictured as the model of sartorial per- 
fection, seated at his table heaped with massive gold and silver 
service. . . . 

When a Democratic paper in an ill-starred moment made a jest 
about the obscure Harrison, who, if left alone, would be content 
with his log cabin and hard cider, the Whigs realized that their 
opportunity had come. It mattered not that the general really was 
in fairly comfortable circumstances and had recently been drawing 
an annual stipend of six thousand dollars; he was to be the log- 
cabin candidate. It was observed that the Democrats should be 
discreet in choosing a vice-presidential candidate, for "Mr. Van 
Buren in consequence of his course of luxurious living to which 
he is addicted, may pass off any day without a moment's warning." 
Compare all this, exclaimed the outraged Whigs, with the severe 
simplicity of Harrison, the farmer of North Bend, whom visitors 

Jeffersonian, a name considerably more representative of its humble readers 
than of its Hamiltonian benefactors." Robert G. Gunderson, The Log-Cabin 
Campaign (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1957), p. 31. 

Formulating a National Identity 85 

had recently discovered flail in hand, threshing out his grain upon 
his barn floor. 54 

And in presenting their candidate for Governor in that year, the New 
York Whig Convention described him as "a true and worthy rep- 
resentative of Democrat-Republican principles, born in the forest of the 
noble Western region of our own State, trained among an industrious 
kindred to hardy toil and manual labor on the farm and in the manu- 
factory democratic in all his associations and sympathies. . . ," 55 Actually, 
many of the candidates in the Whig party were "gentlemen," men from 
some of the country's first families. 56 But in keeping with the democratic 
spirit of the times, they campaigned on a ticket of fraternity and equality, 
even appealing to class hatred against the elite. 

It is important to place these events and doctrines in their historical 
context. American conservatives during the first half of the nineteenth 
century had come to recognize that, like it or not, they must operate 
within the context of a society in which egalitarian values were dominant, 
and in which both the rights of the people to govern, and of the able to 
succeed, must be accepted as inviolable. Many Whigs, to be sure, con- 
centrated their egalitarian enthusiasm on the need to make opportunity 
possible, as distinct from an emphasis on actual equality in social relations. 
(Thus, Whig leaders such as William Seward in New York, Charles 
Sumner in Massachusetts, and Thaddeus Stevens in Pennsylvania gave 
vigorous support to the demand for a state-supported common school 
education, a demand which earlier had been espoused primarily by the 
radical Workingmen's parties.) But the important fact is that, for both 
the Democrats and Whigs, the aristocratic, monarchical, and oligarchic 
societies of Europe were anathema. Both looked upon the United States 
as a new social order which should be an example to the downtrodden of 
the rest of the world. Just as today competing parties in new states are 
almost automatically "socialist," so American political leaders in the first 
half-century of our existence were instinctively "democrats," 57 believing 

54 Fox, The Decline of Aristocracy . . . , pp. 411-413. For a detailed descrip- 
tion of the 1840 campaign, see Gunderson, The Log-Cabin Campaign. 

55 Benson, The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy, p. 251. 

56 Carl R. Fish, The Rise of the Common Mm 1830-1850 (New York: Mac- 
millan,1950),p. 165. 

57 For discussion of the predominant liberal ideology in America see Louis 
Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American 
Political Thought Since the Revolution (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1955); 
and Rossiter, Conservatism in America. 

86 America as a New Nation 

that the United States had a special mission to perform in introducing a 
new form of political order to the world; some even felt that it had an 
obligation to give moral, financial, and other forms of support to European 
radicals fighting for republicanism and freedom. 58 

The significance of "leftism" as characterizing the core values in the 
American political tradition may be best perceived from the vantage point 
of comparative North American history, that is, from the contrast be- 
tween Canada and the United States. For though American historians and 
political philosophers may debate how radical, liberal, leftist, or even con- 
servative American politics has been, there is no doubt in the mind of 
Canadian historians. Looking at the divergent political history north and 
south of the border, Canadian historians see their nation as a descendant 
of the counterrevolution, and the United States as a product of the suc- 
cessful revolution. Once the die was cast, consisting of a triumphant rev- 
olution in the thirteen colonies and a failure to the north, an institutional 
framework was set. Consequent events tended to enforce "leftist" strength 
in the south and a "rightist" bias in the north. 59 The success of the rev- 
olutionary ideology, the defeat of the Tories, and the emigration of many 
of them north to Canada or across the ocean to Britain, all served to en- 

58 For an examination of one effort to press America to further democratic 
institutions in Europe see the discussion by Curti of "Young America/' in 
Probing Our Past, pp. 219-245. This movement, started among Democratic 
Party intellectuals in the early 1850's, sought to get the United States to 
strongly support Kossuth and the Hungarian Revolution, as well as other sim- 
ilar European movements. Those involved in it saw the expansion of the 
American idea in Europe as an extension of the geographical expansion of 
America that had emerged from the Mexican War. 

59 Tocqueville provides a nice illustration of "casting the die" in the instance 
of extending electoral rights. "When a nation begins to modify the elective 
qualification, it may easily be foreseen sooner or later, that qualification 
will be entirely abolished. There is no more invariable rule in the history of 
society: the further electoral rights are extended, the greater is the need for 
extending them; for after each concession the strength of democracy increases, 
and its demands increase with its strength." He illustrates this process by 
pointing to Maryland: "The most democratic laws were consequently voted 
by the very men whose interests they impaired: . . . they [the men with 
vested interests] themselves accelerated the triumph of the new state of things; 
so that, by a singular change, the democratic impulse was found to be most 
irresistible in the very states where the aristocracy had the firmest hold. The 
state of Maryland, which had been founded by men of rank, was the first to 
proclaim universal suffrage and to introduce die most democratic forms into 
the whole of its government." Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 
(New York: Vintage Books, 1954), Vol. I, pp. 54, 58. 

Formulating a National Identity 87 

hance the strength of the forces favoring egalitarian democratic principles 
in the new nation, and to weaken conservative tendencies. On the other 
hand, the failure of Canada to have a revolution of its own, the immigra- 
tion of conservative elements and the emigration of radical elements, and 
the success of colonial Toryism in erecting a conservative class structure 
all contributed to making Canada a more conservative and rigidly strati- 
fied society. Frank Underbill has pointed to some effects of the failure 
of the doctrines of the French and American revolutions to dominate in 

For this weakness of the Left in Canada, the ultimate explanation 
would seem to be that we never had an eighteenth century of our 
own. The intellectual life of our politics has not been periodically 
revived by fresh drafts from the invigorating fountain of eighteenth 
century Enlightenment. In Catholic French Canada the doctrines 
of the rights of man and of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity were re- 
jected from the start, and to this day they have never penetrated, 
save surreptitiously or spasmodically. All effective liberal and radical 
[North American] democratic movements in the nineteenth cen- 
tury have had their roots in this fertile eighteenth-century soil. But 
our ancestors made the great refusal in the eighteenth century. In 
Canada we have no revolutionary tradition. . . . 60 

Another Canadian historian, A. R. M. Lower, has also emphasized the 
way in which the different results of the American Revolution affected 
the two nations which emerged from the British North American colo- 

[C]olonial Toryism made its second attempt to erect on American 
soil a copy of the English social edifice. From one point of view 
this is the most significant thing about the loyalist movement; it 
withdrew a class concept of life from the south, moved it up north 
and gave it a second chance. . . . Canada in time came to be almost 
as wide a popular democracy as the United States itself: though a 
much more conservative one, for a country founded to preserve the 
old order against the new must necessarily be conservative. 61 

60 Frank H. Underbill, In Search of Canadian Liberalism (Toronto: Macmillan, 
1960), p. 12. 

61 A. IL M. Lower, Colony to Nation: A History of Canada (Toronto: Long- 
mans, Green, 1946), pp. 114, 120. 

88 America as a New Nation 

The Canadian sociologist S. D. dark has pointed to various other 
developments in the two nations which served to emphasize the variations 
in political and class values between them. He documents, for example, the 
change in religious behavior among the New England colonies. In Nova 
Scotia, part of New England before the Revolution, the victory of the 
English as a result of their control of the sea sharply affected the 
churches: "The institution which dominated in the life of the vast 
majority of Nova Scotians before 1775 was the Congregational Church 
and it came out almost solidly on the side of the Revolution." But with 
the failure of the revolutionists, many Congregationalist pastors fled 
south to American territory, and the Church of England ultimately 
became dominant in the province. 62 

In any evaluation of the consequences of establishing the new Ameri- 
can nation through a revolution, it is important to remember that this 
revolution had its social and economic aspects as well as political. The 
English historian Frank Thistiethwaite has pointed up many of the 
changes that revolution wrought: 

... In the &lan of their success the insurgents consolidated their 
control and in each of the new States proceeded to transform in- 
stitutional life to fit their beliefs and interests. 

. . . The old colonial assemblies were transformed into virtually 
sovereign State legislatures more directly representing the interests 
of the mass of small farmers. Constituencies were reorganized to 
give a greater measure of equality to the back country. . . . 

They confiscated the Crown lands and most of the Tory estates, 
large and small, redistributing some of the land to small farmers and 
old soldiers. They abolished quit-rents, entails, primogeniture and 
titles of nobility. . . . Henceforward the aggregation of great 
estates, which remained a typical feature of American growth, had 
no longer as its sanction customary privilege with attendant duties, 
but property right. The change loosened the social bond between 
landlord and tenant; it increased the mobility of real estate and 
shifted the basis of proprietorship from social position to mere 
wealth. , . . 

The radicals also disestablished the Church of England where 
established. The new Episcopalian body, bereft of its ancient author- 
ity as the corporate, and indeed catholic, Church of a total society, 
was reduced to the somewhat anomalous position of being merely 
another independent sect, cherished among the conservative and 

62 S. D. Clark, Movements of Political Protect in Canada 1640-1840 (Toronto: 
University of Toronto Press, 1959), pp. 111-112. 

Formulating a National Identity 89 

well-to-do, but insignificant in the religions life of America as a 
whole. 63 

The cultural and institutional differences between the United States 
and Canada offer a useful basis from which to estimate the extent to 
which the revolutionary break from colonial rule, with its concomitant 
legitimation of various egalitarian ideologies and institutions as part of 
the national value system, has been a major determining factor in shaping 
the national ethos, as contrasted with the effects of such factors as an 
"open frontier," the absence of European feudalism and primogeniture, 
and so forth. Canada shares with the United States many of the same 
ecological conditions, but differs in the way its national identity was 
established. And though Canada is more similar to the United States in 
many ways than it is to Britain or other European nations, it also differs 
sharply from the United States in being a more conservative country 
culturally, and a more steeply stratified nation in terms of its society 
and polity. 64 

Conversely, American political and social history illustrates the effect of 
a nation operating within the context of a tradition in which liberal and 
egalitarian values are part of the definition of nationhood itself. The 
German sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf catches the essence of the relation- 
ship between the American value system and its revolutionary origins 
in his commentary on Richard Hofstadter's estimate of William Graham 
Sumner's conservative doctrines. Hofstadter says of the great nineteenth- 
century conservative American thinker: *Sve may wonder whether, in the 
entire history of thought, there was ever a conservatism so utterly progres- 
sive as this." Dahrendorf agrees with this as an evaluation of "con- 
servatism" in America. And he goes on to suggest that our conservative 
YgJ T1fi<; "are characterised* by the desire to preserve progress rather than 
to^preserve any particular state of affairs." And since aH Americans are, 
ideologically speaking, descendants of revolutionaries, Americans both 
of the left and right remain Utopian. It is probably the only developed 

63 Frank Thisdethwaite, The Great Experiment (New York: Cambridge Uni- 
versity Press, 1955), pp. 38-41. The classic statement elaborating the radical 
character and consequences of the American Revolution is, of course, that of 
J. Franklin Jameson, The American Revolution Considered as a Social Move- 
ment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1926). This monograph, which 
appeared in 1925, was reevaluated in light of subsequent historical research; 
Frederick Tolles concludes: "Basically, the 'Jameson thesis' is still sound. . . ." 
See Tolles, "The American Revolution considered as a Social Movement: 
A Re-evaluation," American Historical Review, 60 (1954), pp. 1-12. 

64 These differences are discussed in more detail in Chapter 7. 

90 America as a New Nation 

country in the world "in which there are many who believe that Utopia 
can come true." 65 


All states that have recently gained independence are faced with two 
interrelated problems, legitimating the use of political power and estab- 
lishing national identity. And if it is a democratic polity they seek to 
establish, they must develop institutional and normative constraints upon 
efforts to inhibit organized opposition or to deny civil liberties to 
individual critics of those in power. 

This section has explored ways in which these problems were confronted 
in the early history of the United States. National identity was formed 
under the aegis, first of a charismatic authority figure, and later under 
the leadership of a dominant "left wing" or revolutionary party led 
successively by three Founding Fathers. The pressures in new nations 
to outlaw opposition movements were reduced in America by the rapid 
decline of the conservative opposition. The revolutionary, democratic 
values that thus became part of the national self-image, and the basis for 
its authority structure, gained legitimacy as they proved effective that 
is, as the nation prospered. 

The need to establish stable authority and a sense of identity led the 
leaders of the United States to resist efforts by "old states" to involve 
the young nation in their quarrels. But at the same time that Americans 
rejected "foreign entanglements," they clearly used the Old World as 
both a negative and a positive point of reference, rejecting its political 
and class structures as backward, but nevertheless viewing its cultural 
and economic achievements as worthy of emulation. The intellectuals in 
particular expressed this ambivalence, since they played a major role in 
establishing and defining the state; but they then found that the task of 
operating and even living in it required them to conform to vulgar 
populist and provincial values. 

In specifying those processes in the evolution of the first new nation 
that are comparable to what has been taking place in the societies of 
Asia and Africa in our own time, I am relying upon analogy. It ought 

65 Ralf Dahrendorf, "European Sociology and the American Self-image," 
European Journal of Sociology, 2 (1961), pp. 357, 364; see also Arthur 
Schlesinger, Sr., New Vietopoints in American History (New York: Mac- 
mfllan, 1922). 

Formulating a National Identity 91 

to go without saying that: <r We cannot assume that because conditions 
in one century led to certain effects, even roughly parallel conditions 
in another century would lead to similar effects. Neither can we be sure, 
of course, that the conditions were even roughly parallel." 66 It is fairly 
obvious that conditions in the early United States were quite different 
from those faced by most of the new nations of today. Many of the 
internal conditions that hamper the evolution of stable authority and a 
unifying sense of national identity in the new nations of the twentieth 
century were much less acute in the early United States. But the evidence 
suggests that despite its advantages, the United States came very close to 
failing in its effort to establish a unified legitimate authority. The first 
attempt to do so in 1783, following on Independence, was a failure. The 
second and successful effort was endangered by frequent threats of 
secession and the open flaunting of central authority until the Civil 
War. The advantages which the early United States possessed, as com- 
pared with most of the contemporary new states, then, only show more 
strongly how significant the similarities are. 

There were other American advantages that should be mentioned. 
Although internal conflicts stemming from attitudes toward the French 
Revolution disrupted the young American polity, there was no world- 
wide totalitarian conspiracy seeking to upset political and economic 
development from within, and holding up an alternative model of 
seemingly successful economic growth through the use of authoritarian 
methods. Also the absence of rapid mass communication systems meant 
that Americans were relatively isolated, and hence did not immediately 
compare their conditions with those in the more developed countries. 
The United States did not so urgently face a "revolution of rising 
expectations" based on the knowledge that life is much better elsewhere. 
The accepted concepts of natural or appropriate rights did not include 
a justification of the lower classes' organized participation in the polity to 
gain higher income, welfare support from the state, and the like. And 
whatever the exaggeration in the effects frequently attributed to the 
existence of an open land frontier, there can be little doubt that it con- 
tributed to social stability. 

Internal value cleavages, which frustrate contemporary new nations, 
were comparatively less significant in young America. Shils points out 

66 Karl W. Deutsch, S. A. Burrell, R. A. Kano, M. Lee, Jr., M. Lichterman, 
R. E. Lindgren, F. L. Loewenheim, R. W. Van Wagenen, Political Cornmuriky 
and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 
1957), p. 11. 

92 America as a New Nation 

that in today's new nations "the parochialism of kinship, caste and locality 
makes it difficult to create stable and coherent nation-wide parties." 67 
None of these parochialisms was as strong in the United States which 
was formed by a relatively homogeneous population with a common 
language, a relatively similar religious background (although denomina- 
tional differences did cause some problems), and a common cultural 
and political tradition. 

American social structure did not possess those great "gaps" which, in 
the contemporary new states, "conspire to separate the ordinary people 
from their government." 68 The culture with which the educated identi- 
fied contrasted less strongly with that of the uneducated. The ideology 
in the name of which America made its revolution was less alien to 
prevailing modes of thought than some of today's revolutionary creeds. 
Perhaps most important, the class structure of America, even before 
the establishment of the new nation, came closer to meeting the con- 
ditions for a stable democracy than do those of the new nations of our 
time or, indeed, than those of the Old World at that time. Writing 
shortly before Independence was finally attained, Crfcvecoeur, though 
sympathetic to the Tory cause, pointed up the egalitarianism of American 

The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other as 
they are in Europe. ... A pleasing uniformity of decent competence 
appears throughout our habitations. ... It must take some time ere 
he [the foreign traveler] can reconcile himself to our dictionary, 
which is but short in words of dignity, and names of honor. . . . 
Here man is as free as he ought to be; nor is this pleasing equality so 
transitory as many others are. 69 

The ability to work the institutions of a democratic nation requires 
sophistication both at the elite level and the level of the citizenry at large. 
And as Carl Bridenbaugh has well demonstrated, the America of revolu- 
tionary times was not a colonial backwater. 70 Philadelphia was the second 
largest English city only London surpassed it in numbers. Philadelphia 

67 Edward Shils, "The Military in the Political Development of the New 
States" in John J. Johnson, The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped 
Countries (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1962), p. 14. 
/AH, p. 29. 

69 J. Hector St. John Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer (New 
York: Dolphin Books, n. d.), pp. 46-47. 

70 Carl Bridenbaugh, Rebels and Gentlemen, Philadelphia in the Age of Frank- 
lin (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1942). 

Formulating a National Identity 93 

and other colonial American capitals were centers of relatively high 
culture at this time: they had universities and learned societies, and their 
elite was in touch with, and contributed to, the intellectual and scientific 
life of Britain. 

In this respect, the political traditions that the American colonists 
held in common, were of particular importance since they included the 
concept of the rule of law, and even of constimtionalism/Each colony 
operated under a charter which defined and limited governmental powers. 
Although colonial subjects, Americans were also Englishmen and were 
thus accustomed to the rights and privileges of Englishmen. Through 
their local governments they actually possessed more rights than did 
most of the residents of Britain itself. In a sense, even before independ- 
ence, Americans met a basic condition for democratic government, the 
ability to operate its fundamental institutions. 71 

It requires, not only efficient administration, but an independent 
judiciary with high professional standards and, in all branches of 
government, a scrupulous respect for rules, written and unwritten, 
governing the exercise of power. What these rules are must be 
known to more people than those who actually have the power 
supposed to be limited by these rules, and it must be possible to 
lodge effective complaints against those people who are suspected 
of breaking the rules. This means that there must be, in the broad 
sense, constitutional government. 72 

In many contemporary new nations, a potentially politically powerful 
military class, who have a patriotic, national outlook, may use the army 
to seize power if it becomes impatient with civilian leadership. 73 When 
the United States was seeking to establish a national authority, it was 
not bedeviled by such a class. The entire army in 1789 consisted of 672 
men; and even after a decade of threats of war, there were only 3,429 
soldiers in 1800. The potential military strength was, of course, much 
larger, for it included various state militia reserves. The latter, however, 
were simply the citizenry, and as long as the government had the 
loyalty of the general population, it had no need to fear its professional 
soldiers. 74 

71 See John Plamenatz, On Alien Rule and Self Government (New York: 
Longman's, Green, 1960), pp. 47-48. 
/&,!. 51. 

73 Shils, "The Military . . . ," op. cit., p. 40. 

74 James R. Jacobs, The Beginning of the U. 5. Army, 1783-1812 (Princeton, 
N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1947); see also Deutsch, et al., Political 
Community and the North Atlantic Area 9 p. 26. 

94 America as a New Nation 

Of great significance in facilitating America's development as a nation, 
both politically and economically, was the fact that the weight of 
ancient tradition which is present in almost all of the contemporary new 
states was largely absent. It was not only a ne^_nation, Jfc, was^a,jiew 
society, much less bound to the customs and values of the past than 
any nation of Europe. Crevecoeur well described the American as a 
"new man," the likes of which had never been seen before. 75 

Religion, of course, may be viewed as a "traditional" institution which 
played an important role in the United States. But in the first half-decade 
of the American Republic, as we have seen, the defenders of religious 
traditionalism were seriously weakened, as the various state churches 
Anglican in the South and Congregationalist in New England were 
gradually disestablished. Moreover, the new United States was particularly 
fortunate in the religious traditions which it did inherit. Cahdnistic 
Puritanism, which was stronger in the colonies than in the mother 
country, ^a&JiQt as "uncongenial to modernity? as are some of the 
traditional beliefs inherited by~new mtiom today. A positive orientation 
toward savings and hard work, and the strong motivation to achieve 
high positions that derives from this religious tradition, have been seen 
as causes of the remarkable economic expansion that made possible the 
legitimation of equalitarian values and democratic government. Max 
Weber, the most prominent exponent of the thesis that ascetic Protestant- 
ism played a major role in the development of capitalism in the Western 
world, argued that "one must never overlook that without the universal 
diffusion of these qualities and principles of a methodical way of life, 
qualities which were maintained through these [Calvinist] religious com- 
munities, capitalism, today, even in America, would not be what it is 76 

Calvinism's "insistence that one's works were signs of eternal grace or 
damnation" has been transformed into a secular emphasis upon achieve- 
ment. 77 

75 "What then is the American, this new man . . . ? He is an American, who 
leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones 
from die new mode of life he has embraced. ... He becomes an American by 
being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. The American is a 
new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas 
and form new opinions.'* Cr&vecoeur, Letters -from cm American Farmer ', 
pp. 49-50. 

76 Max Weber, "The Protestant Sects and the Spirit of Capitalism," in Essays 
in Sociology, translated by Hans Gerth and C. W. Mills (New York: Oxford 
University Press, 1946), pp. 309, 313. 

77 Robin Williams, American Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957), 
p. 313. 

Formulating a National Identity 95 

Other Puritan influences on American development have perhaps not 
been sufficiently emphasized. As Richard Schlatter has pointed out in a 
recent summary of the researches on this subject, the Puritan tradition 
involved a respect for learning which led to the establishment of schools 
and universities on a scale that surpassed England. 78 The opportunities 
for learning thus created, and the pressures for widespread education 
that equalitarian values implied, 79 led to a wide distribution of literacy. 
The census of 1840 reported only 9 per cent of the white population 
twenty years old and over as illiterate. 80 

' The Puritan tradition may also have made it easier to legitimize Ameri- 
can democracy as the rule of law. Tocqueville saw the special need of an 
egalitarian and democratic society for a self-restraining value system 
that would inhibit the tyranny of the majority, a function supposedly 
once fulfilled in the European societies by a secure and sophisticated 
aristocratic elite. In a democracy only religion could pky this role,* tend 
therefore the less coercive the political institutions of such a society, the 
more it has need for a system of common belief to help restrict the 
actions of the rulers and the electorate. As he put it: 

But the revolutionists of America are obliged to profess an ostensible 
respect for Christian morality and equity, which does not permit 

78 Richard Schlatter, "The Puritan Strain," in John Higham, ed., The Recon- 
struction of American History (New York: Harper & Bros., 1962), pp. 39^42. 
See also Bernard Bailyn, Education in the Forming of American Society 
(Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1960), for a discussion 
of the influence which the multiplication of numerous sects by the eve of 
the Revolution had upon the spread of education. The promotional and prop- 
agandizing possibilities of education made it an instrument of survival among 
competing sects. "Sectarian groups, without regard to the intellectual com- 
plexity of their doctrine or to their views on the value of learning to religion, 
became dynamic elements in the spread of education, spawning schools of all 
sorts, continuously, competitively in all their settlements; carrying education 
into the remote frontiers." Bailyn, pp. 40-41. 

79 "What strikes one most forcibly about the Puritans* efforts in education is 
the expectation of uniformity. Every family, without regard to its fortunes 
and the accomplishment of its head, and every town, without regard to its 
condition or resources, was expected to provide an equal minimum of edu- 
cation for who, in what place, should be exempt from the essential work of 
life? . . . the quest for salvation . . . this was an occupation without limit, 
in the proper training for which all were expected to join equally, without 
regard to natural ability and worldly circumstance." Bailyn, op. cit., p. 8L 

80 Bureau of the Census, A Statistical Abstract Supplement, Historical Statistics 
of the E7.S. Colonial Times to 1957 (Washington: 1957), p. 214. The census 
of 1840 was the first to report literacy. 

96 America as a New Nation 

them to violate wantonly the laws that oppose their designs; nor 
would they find it easy to surmount the scruples of their partisans 

even if they were able to get over their own Thus while the law 

permits Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them 
from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or un- 
just. 81 

While Tocqueville pointed out that Catholicism was not necessarily 
incompatible with democratic or egalitarian values, since "it confounds 
all the distinctions of society at the foot of the same altar," he describes 
the "form of Christianity" in early America as "a democratic and re- 
publican religion." 82 It would indeed seem that the J3dvinistic-Puritan 
tradition was particularly valuable in Jtraining^men to the sort of^ jdf- 
restraint that Tocqueville felt was necessary for democracy. By making 
every man God's agent, ascetic Protestantism made each individual 
responsible for the state of morality in the society; and by making the 
congregation a disciplinary agent it helped to prevent any one individual 
from assuming that his brand of morality was better than others. 83 

Puritanism had been associated with the movement of the squirearchy 
for political recognition in England. As Trevelyan has put it: 

Under Elizabeth the increasing Puritanism of the squires introduced 
a new element. The fear and love of God began to strive with the 
fear and love of the Queen in the breast of the Parliament men. . . . 
Protestantism and Parliamentary privilege were already closely con- 
nected, before even the first Stuart came to trouble [the] still 
further seething waters [of Cromwell's rebellion]. 84 

So that, as Schlatter has pointed out, the Puritan tradition implied a 
concern for "constitutionalism and limited government," as well as a 
belief "that they are a peculiar people, destined by Providence to live 
in a more perfect community than any known in the Old World. . . ," 85 
In establishing its identity, the new America quickly came to see 
itself, and to be perceived by others, as a radical society in which con- 

61 Tocqueville, Democracy in America y Vol. I, p. 316. 

83 Williams, American Society, p. 312. 

84 G. M. Trevelyan, History of England (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday 
Anchor Books, 1954), Vol. II, pp. 143-144. 

85 Schlatter, "The Puritan Strain," op. cit., p. 42. 

Formulating a National Identity 97 

servatism and traditionalism had no proper pjace. The religious tradi- 
tions on which it drew stressed that it was to be different from European 
nations. But its really radical character derived from its revolutionary 

The political scientist Clinton Rossiter has described the effects of the 
revolution on the political ideologies of the nation in explaining why 
conservatism as a doctrine is weak in America: 

The reason the American Right is not Conservative today is that 
it has not been Conservative for more than a hundred years. . . . 
Conservatism first emerged to meet the challenge of democracy. 
In countries like England it was able to survive the rise of this new 
way of life by giving way a litde at a time under its relentless 
pounding, but in America the triumph of democracy was too 
sudden and complete. It came to society as well as to politics; it 
came early in the history of the Republic and found the opposition 
only half dug in, ... The result was a disaster for genuine, old- 
country Conservatism. Nowhere in the world did the progressive, 
optimistic, egalitarian mode of thinking invade so completely the 
mind of an entire people. Nowhere was the Right forced so abruptly 
into such an untenable position. If there is any single quality that 
the Right seems always and everywhere to cultivate, it is un- 
questioning patriotism, and this, in turn, calls for unquestioning 
devotion to the nation's ideals. The long-standing merger of 
"America" and "democracy" has meant that to profess Conservatism 
is to be something less than "one hundred per cent American"; 
indeed, it is to question the nation's destiny. Worse than that, this 
merger has doomed outspoken Conservatism to political failure. 88 

From Tocqueville and Martineau in the 1830's to Gunnar Myrdal in 
more recent times, foreign visitors have been impressed by the extent 
to which the values proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence have 
operated to prescribe social and political behavior. And the legitimacy 
which the American authority structure ultimately attained has been 
based on the assumption that as a nation it is dedicated to equality and 
to liberty, to the fn.lfiHme.nt of its original political objectives. 

As Frank Thistiethwaite put it a few years ago: 

In the mid-twentieth century the American people still pursue their 
Revolutionary ideal: a Republic established in the belief that men 
of good will could voluntarily come together in the sanctuary of an 

86 Rossiter, Conservatism m America, pp. 201-202. 

98 America as a New Nation 

American wilderness to order their common affairs according to 
rational principles; a dedicated association in which men participate 
not by virtue of being born into it as heirs of immemorial custom, 
but by virtue of free choice, of the will to affirm certain sacred 
principles; a community of the uprooted, of migrants who have 
turned their back on the past in which they were born; ... a society 
fluid and experimental, uncommitted to rigid values, cherishing 
freedom of will and choice and bestowing all the promise of the 
future on those with the manhood to reject the past 87 

87 Thisdethwaite, The Great Experiment, pp. 319-320. 






A Changing 




Two themes, equality and achievement, emerged from the interplay 
between the Puritan tradition and the Revolutionary ethos in the early 
formation of America's institutions. In this section the thesis is advanced 
that the dynamic interaction of these two predominant values has been a 
constant element in determining American institutions and behavior. 
As we have seen, equalitarianism was an explicit part of the revolt 
against the traditions of the Old World, while an emphasis upon succ^s 
and hard work had long been a part of the Protestant ethic. In addition, 
the need to maximize talent in the new nation's search to "overtake" 
the Old World placed an added premium on an individual's achievement, 
regardless of his social station. The relatively few changes that Andrew 
Jackson made in the civil service, despite his aggressive equalitarian ethos, 
and the fact that his appointments were well-trained, highly educated 
men, show that ability was valued along with equality in the young 
republic. 1 

1 See Erik M. Erikkson, "The Federal Civil Service Under President Jackson," 
Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 13 (1927), pp. 517-540. Erikkson demon- 
strates convincingly that Jackson did not inaugurate a spoils system, that 
relatively few civil servants were fired after he took office. His conclusions 
have been reiterated recently in a detailed analysis of the backgrounds of the 
upper echelons of government under Jackson. Sidney Aronson agrees with 
Erikkson that there was little turnover when Jackson took office. Both men 
point to the fact that the changes introduced by Jefferson were about as great 

102 Stability in the Midst of Change 

The relationship between these themes of equality and success has been 
complex. On the one hand, the ideal of equal opportunity institu- 
tionalized the notion that success should be the goal of all, without ref- 
erence to accidents of birth or class or color. On the other hand, in actual 
operation these two dominant values resulted in considerable conflict. 
While everyone was supposed to succeed, obviously certain persons were 
able to achieve greater success than others* The wealth of the nation 
was never distributed as equally as the political franchise. The tendency 
for the ideal of achievement to undermine the fact of equality, and to 
bring about a society with a distinct class character, has been checked 
by the recurrent victories of the forces of equality in the political order. 
Much of our political history, as Tocqueville noted, can be interpreted in 
terms of a struggle between proponents of democratic equality and 
would-be aristocracies of birth or wealth. 2 

In recent years, many social analysts have sought to show how the in- 
creasing industrialization, urbanization, and bureaucratization of American 
society have modified the values of equality and achievement. In both the 
1930's and the 1950's American social scientists were certain that the 
country was undergoing major structural changes. In the 1930's they were 
sure that these changes were making status lines more rigid, that there was 
a movement away from achieved status back to ascribed status, and that 
the equalitarian ethic was threatened as a consequence. 8 Such typical 
writers of the 19SO's as David Riesman and William H. Whyte contend 
that it is the achievement motive and the Protestant ethic of hard work that 
are dying: they think that the new society prefers security, emotional sta- 
bility, and "getting along with others." Riesman posits a transformation of 
the American character structure from "inner direction" (i.e., responding 
to a fixed internal code of morality) to "other direction" (i.e., responding 
to demands of others in complex situations), 4 Whyte believes that values 

as by Jackson. Aronson also demonstrates that Jackson's appointees were 
highly qualified men, that most of them were college graduates in an age when 
the total number of such graduates was insignificant. See Sidney Aronson, 
Status and Kinship in the Higher Civil Service: The Administrations of John 
Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson (doctoral dissertation, Colum- 
bia University Department of Sociology, 1961). 

2 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Vintage Books, 
1955), Vol. I, pp. 185-186. 

3 These studies of the 1930's are discussed at the end of this chapter in more 

4 David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University 
Press, 1950). 

A Changing American Character? 103 

themselves have changed. He argues that the old value system of the 
Protestant ethic, which he defines as the "pursuit of individual salvation 
through hard work, thrift, and competitive struggle," is being replaced 
by the "social ethic," whose basic tenets are a "belief in the group as the 
source of creativity; a belief in 'belongingness' as the ultimate need of the 
individual; and a belief in the application of science to achieve the 
belongingness." 5 

If the changes suggested by the critics of the 1930's or the 1950's were 
occurring in the drastic form indicated in their books, then America no 
longer could be said to possess the traits formed as a consequence of its 
origin as a new nation with a Protestant culture. As I read the historical 
record, however, it suggests that there is more continuity than change 
with respect to the main elements in the national value system. This does 
not mean that our society is basically static. Clearly, there have been 
great secular changes industrialization, bureaucratization, and urbani- 
zation are real enough and they have profoundly affected other aspects 
of the social structure. Many American sociologists have documented 
changes in work habits, leisure, personality, family patterns, and so forth. 
But this very concentration on the obvious social changes in a society 
that has spanned a continent in a century, that has moved from a predom- 
inantly rural culture as recently as 1870 to a metropolitan culture in the 
1950's, has introduced a fundamental bias against looking at what has been 
relatively constant and unchanging. 

Basic alterations of social character or values are rarely produced by 
change in the means of production, distribution, and exchange alone. 
Rather, as a society becomes more complex, its institutional arrangements 
make adjustments to new conditions within the framework of a dominant 
value system. In turn, the new institutional patterns may affect the social- 
ization process which, from infancy upward, instills fundamental char- 
acter traits. Through such a process, changes in the dominant value sys- 
tem develop slowly or not at all. There are constant efforts to fit the 
"new 3 ' technological world into the social patterns of the old, familiar 

In this section I examine the thesis that a fundamental change has oc- 
curred in American society by treating three topics, each of which has 
been widely discussed as reflecting important modifications in the basic 
value system. This chapter deals with the arguments and evidence of 

5 William H. Whyte, The Organization Man (New York: Simon & Schuster 

104 Stability In the Midst of Change 

chM>es ^ t ^ ie ' 3as ^ c predominant character traits of Americans .as sug- 
gested by men like David Riesman and William Whyte. The following 
chapter, 4, examines the evidence of major changes in religious participa- 
tipnjandjbelief, since many have argued that American religion, the in- 
stitution most closely identified with values, is much different from what 
it was in the nineteenth century. And the last chapter of the section, 5, 
analyzes an institution which has become significant only in this century, 
and especially in the past three decades: the trade union. Trade unions 
are given special treatment because the growth of these "class" organiza- 
tions has suggested to some that the United States is finally entering the 
era of working-class consciousness as a result of the hardening of class 
lines, and that we are witnessing the end of the emphases on achievement 
and equality. 

In brief, I attempt in this section to present some of the evidence for 
my thesis that it is the basic value system, as solidified in the early days of 
the new nation, which can account for the kinds of changes that have 
taken place in the American character and in American institutions as 
these faced the need to adjust to the requirements of an urban, industrial, 
and bureaucratic society. 

Marcus Cunliffe has remarked on the American tendency to assert that 
a wondrous opportunity has been ruined, "that a golden age has been tar- 
nished, that the old ways have disappeared, or that they offer no useful 
guide to a newer generation-" 6 He points out that, American belief to the 
contrary, there has been surprising continuity in American history as 
compared with the histories of European nations. This American propen- 
sity to feel that the country is going through a major change at any 
"present time" is related to an almost ^nJiereilLAnierican tendency to 
beUev.e.that one Jias. been .cut off decisively from the jsait as 

physical barrier." Cunliffe attributes this tendency to three main elements: 

First it is a consequence of the undeniable fact of continuous and 
rapid social change since the origins of settlement. This process has, 
understandably, revealed itself in regrets and neuroses as well as in 
pride and exuberance. Second, the tendency is rooted in the constant 
American determination to repudiate Europe Europe equated with 
the Past, in contrast with America as the Future and so to lose the 
Past altogether. Third, the tendency is a consequence of the Amer- 
ican sense of a society which is uniquely free to choose its own 
destiny. The sense of mission, of dedication and of infinite possi- 

6 Marcus Cunliffe, "American Watersheds," American Quarterly, 13 (1961), 
pp. 479-494. 

A Changing American Character? 105 

bility, in part a fact and in part an article of faith, has led to acute 
if temporary despairs, to suspicions of betrayal and the like, as well 
as to more positive and flamboyant results, 7 

In a sense, Cunliff e's analysis shows how some of the values we have 
seen arising from America's revolutionary origins continue to be a part 
of its image of itself. And perhaps more important, his observation that 
there has been more_cpntinuity in American history than in European 
history suggests that the values around which American institutions are 
built have not changed abruptly. Others have pointed out that America 
is an example of a country where social change does not have to destroy 
the fabric of society, precisely because it is based upon an ideological 
commitment to change. 8 

- .-.-. 4J . --. * H*3 

The thesis that the same basic values which arose in the American 
Revolution have shaped the society under changing geographical and eco- 
nomic conditions, has also been advanced by many historians. Thus Henry 
Nash Smith has sought to show how the rural frontier settlements estab- 
lished in the West on the Great Plains reflected not only the physical en- 
vironment but also "the assumptions and aspirations of a whole society." 9 
He has argued that revisions in the Homestead Act, which would have 
permitted large farms and a more economical use of arid land, were op- 
posed by the new settlers because they believed in the ideal of the family 
farm. Walt Rostow suggests there is a "classic American style [which] 
. . . emerged distinctively toward the end of the seventeenth century as 
the imperatives and opportunities of a wild but ample land began to as- 
sert themselves over various transplanted autocratic attitudes and institu- 
tions which proved inappropriate to the colonial scene . . . [and] came 
fully to life . . . after the War of 1812." And he further contends that 
this style has not changed basically, since "the cast of American values 
and institutions and the tendency to adapt them by cumulative experi- 
ment rather than to change them radically has been progressively 
strengthened by the image of the gathering success of the American ad- 
venture." 10 Commager, writing of America in general, has said: "Circum- 

7 Ibid., pp. 489-490. 

8 Daniel Bell, "The Theory of Mass Society," Commentary, 22 (1956), pp. 75-83. 

9 Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1950), p. 124; for a similar point 
see George W. Pierson, "The Frontier and American Institutions," New 
England Quarterly, 15 (1942), p. 253. 

10 W. W. Rostow, "The National Style," in Elting E. Morison, ed., The 
American Style: Essays in Value and Performance (New York: Harper & 
Bros., 1958), pp. 247, 259. 

106 Stability in the Midst of Change 

stances change profoundly, but the character of the American people has 
not changed greatly or the nature of the principles of conduct, public 
and private, to which they subscribe." 11 Three books dealing with Amer- 
ican values, by Daniel Boorstin, Louis Hartz, and Ralph Gabriel, have 
each, in a different way, argued the effective continuity of the fundamen- 
tal ideals of the society. 12 

The conclusions of these historians are affirmed also in a 'lexicographic 
analysis of alleged American characteristics, ideals, and principles" re- 
ported in a myriad of books and articles dealing with "the American 
way." American history was divided for the purposes of the study into 
four periods, "Pre-Civil War (to 1865), Civil War to World War (1866- 
1917), World War to Depression (1918-1929), and Depression to present 
(1930-1940)." For each period a list of traits alleged by observers was 
recorded, and "when the lists for each of the four time periods were 
compared, no important difference between the traits mentioned by 
modern observers and those writing in the earlier periods of American 
history was discovered." Among the traits mentioned in all four periods 
were: "Belief in equality of all as a fact and as a right" and '^uniformity 
and conformity." 13 

The Unchanging American Character 

Foreign travelers' accounts of American life, manners, and character 
traits constitute a body of evidence with which to test the thesis that the 
American character has been transformed during the past century and a 

11 Henry Steele Commager, Living Ideas in America (New York: Harper & 
Bros,, 1951), p. xviii. In the introduction to a collection of the writings of 
foreign observers, Commager reported also that "a real unity emerges from 
these heterogeneous selections . . . implicit in the material itself. ... To the 
visitors of the seventeen-seventies and the nineteen-forties, America meant 
much the same thing. America in Perspective (New York: Random House, 
1947), p. xvi. (Emphasis in original.) 

12 See Daniel Boorstin, The Genius of American Politics (Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press, 1953), and his The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (New 
York: Holt, 1948); Louis M. Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America: An 
Interpretation of American Political Thought since the Revolution (New 
York: Harcourt, Brace, 1955); and Ralph H. Gabriel, The Course of American 
Democratic Thought (New York: Ronald Press, 1956). Boorstin sees these 
values or basic premises as "naturalism." Hartz calls his version "liberalism," 
while Gabriel speaks of a "democratic faith" with three aspects. 

13 Lee Coleman, "What is America? A Study of Alleged American Traits," 
Social Forces, 19 (1941), pp. 492-499. 

A Changing American Character? 107 

half. Their observations provide us with a kind of comparative mirror 
in which we can look at ourselves over time. It is important to note, 
therefore, that the type of behavior which Riesman and Whyte regard as 
distinctly modern, as reflecting the decline of the Protestant Ethic, was 
repeatedly reported by many of the nineteenth-century travelers as a 
peculiarly American trait in their day. Thus the English writer Harriet 
Martineau at times might be paraphrasing The Lonely Crowd in her 
description of the American of die 1830's: 

[Americans] may travel over the world, and find no society but 
their own which will submit to the restraint of perpetual caution, 
and reference to the opinions of others. They may travel over the 
whole world, and find no country but their own where the very 
children beware of getting into scrapes, and talk of the effect of 
actions upon people's minds; where the youth of society determine 
in silence what opinions they shall bring forward, and what avow 
only in the family circle; where women write miserable letters, 
almost universally, because it is a settled matter that it is unsafe to 
commit oneself on paper; and where elderly people seem to kck 
almost universally that faith in principles which inspires a free 
expression of them at any time, and under all circumstances. . . . 

There is fear of vulgarity, fear of responsibility; and above all, 
fear of singularity. . . . There is something litde short of disgusting 
to the stranger who has been unused to witness such want of social 
confidence, in the caution which presents probably the strongest 
aspect of selfishness that he has ever seen. The Americans of the 
northern states are, from education and habit, as accustomed to 
the caution of which I speak, as to be unaware of its extent and 
singularity. * . . 

Few persons [Americans] really doubt this when the plain case 
is set down before them. They agree to it in church on Sundays, and 
in conversation by the fireside: and the reason why they are so 
backward as they are to act upon it in the world, is that habit and 
education are too strong for them. They have worn their chains so 
long that they feel them less than might be supposed. 14 

Harriet Martineau is only one observer of early American life, and 
not necessarily more reliable than others. But it is significant that her 
comments on American "other-directedness" and conformism do not 
flow, as do those of other nineteenth-century visitors who made com- 

14 Harriet Martineau, Society m America (New York: Saunders and Oday, 
1837), VoL HI, pp. 14-15, 17. 

108 Stability in the Midst of Change 

parable observations, from fear or dislike of democracy. Many upper- 
class visitors, such as Tocqueville or Ostrogorski, saw here a threat to 
genuine individuality and creativity in political and intellectual life, in 
that democracy and equalitarianism give the masses access to elites, so that 
the latter must be slaves to public opinion in order to survive. Harriet 
Martineau, as a left-wing English liberal, did not come to America with 
such fears or beliefs. She remained an ardent admirer of American 
democracy, even though she ultimately decided that "the worship of 
Opinion is, at this day, the established religion of the United States." 15 

The most celebrated post-Civil War nineteenth-century English visitor 
to America, James Bryce, saw inherent in American society "self-distrust, 
a despondency, a disposition to fall into line, to acquiesce in the dominant 
opinion. . . ." This "tendency to acquiescence and submission" is not to 
be "confounded with the tyranny of the majority. . . . [It] does not 
imply any compulsion exerted by the majority," in the sense discussed 
by Tocqueville. Rather Bryce, like Harriet Martineau fifty years earlier, 
described what he felt to be a basic psychological trait of Americans, 
their "fatalism/* which involved a "loss of resisting power, a diminished 
sense of personal responsibility, and of the duty to battle for one's own 
opinions. . . ." 16 

Although Harriet Martineau and James Bryce stand out among nine- 
teenth-century visitors in specifying that these other-directed traits were 
deeply rooted in the personalities of many Americans, the general 
behaviors that they and Tocqueville reported were mentioned by many 
other foreign travelers. For example, a summary of the writings of 
English travelers from 1785 to 1835 states that one important characteris- 
tic mentioned in a number of books "was the acute sensitiveness to 
opinion that the average American revealed." 17 A German aristocrat, who 
became a devotee of American democracy and a citizen of the country, 
stated in the 1830's that "nothing can excite the contempt of an educated 
European more than the continual fears and apprehensions in which even 
the 'most enlightened citizens' of the United States seem to live with 
regard to their next neighbors, lest their actions, principles, opinions and 
beliefs should be condemned by their fellow creatures." 18 An interpreter 

, p. 7. 

16 James Bryce, The American Commonwealth (New York: Macmillan, 
1912), Vol. H, pp. 351-352. 

17 Jane L. Mesick, The English Traveller in America 1185-1835 (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1922), p. 301. 

18 Francis J. Grand, Aristocracy in America (New York: Harper Torch- 
books, 1959), p. 162; see also pp. 52 and 157 for further comments. 

A Changing American Character? 109 

of nineteenth-century foreign opinion, John Graham Brooks, mentions 
various other writers who noted the unwillingness of Americans to be 
critical of each other. He quotes James Muirhead, the English editor of 
the "Baedeker guide to the United States, as saying: "Americans invented 
the slang word 'kicker, 7 but so far as I could see their vocabulary is here 
miles ahead of their practice; they dream noble deeds, but do not do 
them; Englishmen 'kick' much better without having a name for it." 
Brooks suggested that it was the American "hesitation to face unpleasant 
facts rather than be disagreeable and pugnacious about them, after the 
genius of our English cousins, that calls out the criticism." 19 

The observation that the early Americans were cautious and sensitive 
has been made not only by foreign visitors but also, at different times, 
by Americans as in fact many of the foreign authors report. In 1898, 
the American writer John Jay Chapman echoed TocqueviUe's dictum of 
seventy years before, that he knew "of no country in which there is so 
little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America." 
Chapman saw the general caution and desire to please as the source of 
many of the ills of his day: 

"Live and let live," says our genial prudence. Well enough, but 
mark the event. No one ever lost his social standing merely because 
of his offenses, but because of the talk about them. As free speech 
goes out the rascals come in. 

Speech is a great part of social life, but not the whole of it. Dress, 
bearing, expression, betray a man, customs show character, all these 
various utterances mingle and merge into the general tone which is 
the voice of a national temperament; private motive is lost in it. 

This tone penetrates and envelops everything in America. It is 
impossible to condemn it altogether. This desire to please, which 
has so much of the shopman's smile in it, graduates at one end of the 
scale into a general kindliness, into public benefactions, hospitals, and 
college foundations; at the other end it is seen melting into a desire 
to efface one's self rather than give offense, to hide rather than be 

In Europe, the men in the pit at the theatre stand up between 
the acts, face the house, and examine the audience at leisure. The 
American dares not do this. He cannot stand the isolation, nor the 
publicity. The American in a horse car can give his seat to a lady, 
but dares not raise his voice while the conductor tramps over his 
toes. 20 

19 J. G. Brooks, As Others See Us (New York: Macmillan, 1908), p. 95. 

20 The Selected Wrmngs of John Jay Chapman, Jacques Barzun, ed. (New 
York: Doubleday Anchor, 1959), p. 278. 

110 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Although these accounts by travelers and American essayists cannot 
be taken as conclusive proof of an unchanging American character, they 
do suggest that the hypothesis which sees the American character 
changing with respect to the traits "inner-" and "other-directedness" 
may be incorrect. 

The Unchanging American Values and Their 
Connection with American Character 

The foreign travelers were also impressed by the American insistence 
on equality in social relations, and on achievement in one's career. Indeed, 
many perceived an intimate connection between the other-directed be- 
havior they witnessed and the prevalence of these values, such that the 
behavior could not be understood without reference to them. An analysis 
of the writings of hundreds of British travelers in America before the 
Civil War reports: "Most prominent of the many impressions that 
Britons took back with them [between 1836 and 1860] was the aggres- 
sive egalitarianism of the people." 21 If one studies the writings of such 
celebrated European visitors as Harriet Martineau, the Trollopes (both 
mother and son), Tocqueville, or James Bryce, it is easy to find many 
observations documenting this point 22 

Baedeker's advice to any European planning to visit the United States 
in the kte nineteenth or early twentieth century was that he "should, 
from the outset, reconcile himself to the absence of deference, or servility, 
on the part of those he considers his social inferiors." 28 A detailed exami- 
nation of the comments of European visitors from 1890 to 1910 reports 
general agreement concerning the depth and character of American 

21 Max Berger, The British Traveller in America, 1836-1860 (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1943), pp. 54-55. 

22 For some detailed citations and references see S. M. Lipset, "Stability in the 
Midst of Change,'* The Social Welfare Forum, 1959 (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1959), pp. 16-18. See also Commager, America in Perspec- 
tive, pp. xvir-xviL 

^Quoted by Philip Burne-Jones, Dollars and Democracy (London: Sidney 
Appleton, 1904), p. 69. Burne-Jones agrees with Baedeker and tells his English 
readers to follow his good advice, because he who "doesn't do so ... will 
probably live in a perpetual state of indignation and annoyance . . . [since 
Americans at every social level think] that they are really every bit as good 
as you are, in a country where all social distinctions are supposed to be non- 

A Changing American Character? Ill 

Whether they liked what they saw or not, most foreign observers 
did not doubt that America was a democratic society. . . . Different 
occupations of course, brought differences in prestige, but neither 
the occupation nor the prestige implied any fundamental difference 
in the value of individuals. . . . The similarity of conclusions based 
on diverse observations was simply another indication of the absence 
of sharp class differences. Even hostile visitors confirmed this judg- 
ment. Some foreign observers found the arrogance of American 
workers intolerable. 24 

Even today this contrast between Europe and America with respect 
to patterns of equality in interpersonal relations among men of different 
social positions is striking. A comparison of writings of European visitors 
at the turn of this century with those made by British groups visiting 
here to study American industrial methods since World War n states that 
"the foreign descriptions of * . . America in 1890 and 1950 are remarkably 
similar. . . . The British teams [in the 1950's reported] ... the same 
values . . . which impressed visitors a half century ago. Like them they 
found the American worker is more nearly the equal of other members of 
society than the European, with respect not only to his material prosperity, 
but also to ... the attitudes of others toward him." 25 And this attitude 
is apparent at other levels of American society as well. As one com- 
mentator put it when describing the high-status Europeans who have 
come to America in recent years as political refugees from Nazism and 

With his deep sense of class and status, integration in American 
society is not easy for the emigre. The skilled engineer or physician 
who . . . finally establishes himself in his profession, discovers that 

24 Robert W. Smuts, European Impressions of the American Worker (New 
York: King's Crown Press, 1953), pp. 3-7. It is interesting to note the similar- 
ity between the complaints of presumably conservative upper-class Europeans 
of the 1890's who found "the arrogance of American workers intolerable" 
and the complaint of Frances Trollope in 1830 concerning that "coarse 
familiarity, untempered by any shadow of respect, which is assumed by the 
grossest and lowest in their intercourse with the highest and most refined," or 
that of her son Anthony who visited America in 1860 and objected that "the 
man to whose service one is entitled answers one with determined insolence." 
See Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (London: Whit- 
taker, Treacher, 1832), p, 109, and Anthony Trollope, North America (New 
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951), p. 77. 

25 Smuts, European Impressions of the American Worker, p. 54. 

112 Stability in the Midst of Change 

he does not enjoy the same exalted status that he would have had in 
the old country. I met several young Croatian doctors in the Los 
Angeles area who were earning $25,000 to $35,000 a year, but still 
felt declassed, 26 

American emphasis on equalitarianism as a dominant value is significant 
in determining what to many of the Europeans were three closely related 
processes: Competition, status uncertainty, and conformity. Tocqueville, 
for example, argued that equalitarianism maximizes competition among 
the members of a society. 27 But if equalitarianism fosters competition for 
status, the combination of the two values of equality and achievement 
results, according to many of the travelers, in an amorphous social struc- 
ture in which individuals are uncertain about their social position. In fact, 
those travelers who were so impressed with the pervasive equalitarianism 
of American society also suggested that, precisely as a result of the 
emphasis on equality and opportunity, Americans were more status- 
conscious than those who lived in the more aristocratic societies of 
Europe. They believed, for example, that it was easier for the nouveaux 
riches to be accepted in European high society than in American. 
British travelers before the Civil War noted that Americans seemed to 
love titles more than Englishmen. European observers, from Harriet 
Martineau and Frances Trollope in the 1830's to James Bryce in the 
1880's 28 and Denis Brogan in recent years, have pointed out that the 
actual strength of equality as a dominant American value with the 
consequent lack of any well-defined deference structure linked to a 
legitimate aristocratic tradition where the propriety of social rankings 
is unquestioned forces Americans to emphasize status background and 
symbolism. 29 As Brogan has remarked, the American value system has 

2*Bogden Raditsa, "Clash of Two Immigrant Generations," Commentary, 25 
(1958), p. 12. 

27 Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. n, p. 146. See also Smuts, Euro- 
pean Impressions of the American Worker, p. 13. 

28 For citations and references in the foreign travel literature, see Lipset, 
"Stability in the Midst of Change," op. cit., pp. 32-35, 

29 "It is only an apparent contradiction in terms to assert that the fundamental 
democratic and egalitarian character of American life is demonstrated by the 
ingenuity and persistence shown in inventing marks of difference and symbols 
of superiority. In a truly class-conscious and caste-dominated society, the marks 
of difference are universally recognized even if resented. In America they must 
be stressed, or they might easily be forgotten, and they must be added to, as the 
old standards of distinction cease to serve their purpose. Apart from the 

A Changing American Character? 113 

formed "a society which, despite all efforts of school, advertising, clubs 
and the rest, makes the creation of effective social barriers difficult and 
their maintenance a perpetually repeated task. American social fences 
have to be continually repaired; in England they are like wild hedges, 
they grow if left alone." 30 

"SSfu^ttrnn^ and the resultant conformism have not been limited 
solelyT or even primarily, to the more well-to-do classes in American 
society. Many of the early nineteenth-century travelers commented on 
the extent to which workers attempted to imitate middle-class styles of 
life. Smuts notes that visitors at the turn of this century were struck by 
' Vhat they regarded as the spend-thrift pattern of the American worker's 
life"; Paul Bourget, a French observer, interpreted this behavior as 
reflecting "the profound feeling of equality [in America which] urges 

simple economic criterion of conspicuous display, there are no generally ac- 
cepted marks of social difference in America. And modern salesmanship makes 
clothes, cars, and personal adornment far more alike than was possible in the 
old days of belated styles and the Model T Ford. It is worth noting that the 
main stress of American class distinction is put on 'exclusiveness.* In a society 
without formal public recognition of difference in rank, with a poor and 
diminishing stock of reverence for hereditary eminence, and with a constant 
rise to the top of the economic system of new men amply provided with the 
only substitute for hereditary eminence, wealth, it becomes extremely dif- 
ficult to make 'society' anything but the spare-time activities of the rich. It 
is characteristic that it is in cities whose days of economic advance are over, 
in Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, that it has proved easiest to keep out the 
newcomers." Denis W. Brogan, U. S. A.: An Outline of the Country, Its Peo- 
ple and Institutions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1941), pp. 116-117. 
30 Denis W. Brogan, The English People (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1943), 
p. 99. Gabriel Almond has commented in the same vein. "In a seme America 
is a nation of parvenus. A historically unique rate of immigration, social and 
geographic mobility has produced a people which has not had an opportunity 
to 'set,' to acquire the security and stability which come from familiar ties, 
associations, rights, and obligations. ... In more stably stratified societies the 
individual tends to have a greater sense of location,* a broader and deeper 
identification with his social surroundings. [The American pattern, con- 
sequently,] leaves the individual somewhat doubtful as to his social legitimacy. 
. . ." The American People and Foreign Policy (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 
1950), pp. 63-64. (Emphasis mine.) 

An American historian, Rowland Berthoff, has also noted recently: "The 
evidence is already becoming plain that status striving is no latter-day 
degeneracy of Americans: rather . . . such insecurity was a by-product of 
excessive mobility." "The American Social Order: A Conservative Hypoth- 
esis," American Historical Review, 65 (1960), p. 512. 

114 Stability in the Midst of Change 

them to make a show." As Werner Sombart, the German sociologist and 
economist, put it, "since all are seeking success . . . everyone is forced 
into a struggle to beat every other individual; and a steeple-chase 
begins . . . that differs from all other races in that the goal is not fixed 
but constantly moves even further away from the runners." And in an 
equalitarian democracy "the universal striving for success [becomes a 
major cause of] ... the worker's extravagance, for, as Miinsterberg [a 
German psychologist] pointed out, the ability to spend was the only 
public sign of success at earning." 31 And lest it be thought that such 
concerns with conspicuous consumption emerged only in the Gilded Age 
of the 1890's as analyzed by Veblen, sixty years earlier a medical study 
of the "Influence of Trades, Professions, and Occupations, in the United 
States, in the Production of Disease," described and analyzed behavior in 
much the same terms: 

The population of the United States is beyond that of other coun- 
tries an anxious one. All classes are either striving after wealth, or 
endeavoring to keep up its appearance. From the principle of 
imitation which is implanted in all of us, sharpened perhaps by the 
existing equality of conditions, the poor follow as closely as they 
are able the habits and manner of living of the rich. . . . From these 
causes, and perhaps from the nature of our political institutions, and 
the effects arising from them, we are an anxious, care-worn people. 32 

While some Europeans explained American behavior that they found 
strange the sensitivity, kindliness, concern for others' feelings, and moral 

81 Smuts, European Impressions of the American Worker, p. 13. 

82 Benjamin McCready, "On the Influence of Trades, Professions, and Oc- 
cupations in the United States, in the Production of Disease," Transactions 
of the Medical Society of the State of New York (1836-1837), III, pp. 
146-147. It is interesting to note the congruence between this report and 
Tocqueville's comments about the same period. He noted: "In America I saw 
the freest and most enlightened men placed in the happiest circumstances that 
the world affords; [yet] it seemed to me as if a cloud hung upon their brow, 
and I thought them serious and almost sad, even in their pleasures. 

"The chief reason for this contrast is that the former [the peasants in 
Europe] do not think of the ills they endure, while the latter [the Americans] 
are forever brooding over advantages they do not possess. It is strange to see 
with what feverish ardor the Americans pursue their own welfare, and to 
watch the vague dread that constantly torments them lest they should not 
have chosen the shortest path that leads to it." Tocqueville, Democracy in 
America, VoL n, p. 144. 

Riesman apparently overlooked this observation of Tocqueville's, since he 
suggests that things have changed "since Tocqueville wrote . . . [in] that 

A Changing American Character? 115 

meekness by reference to the nature of political democracy or the over- 
bearing desire to make money, others saw these jraits as consequences of 
the extreme emphasis on equality of opportunity, the basic American 
value which they properly regarded as unique. Many argued that this 
very emphasis on equality, and the constant challenging of any pretensions 
to permanent high status, has made Americans in all social positions 
extremely sensitive to the opinions of others, and causes status aspirants 
greater anxiety about the behavior and characteristics indicative of rank 
than is the case with their counterparts in more aristocratic societies. 
Discussing the writings of various travelers, John Graham Brooks states: 

One deeper reason why the English are blunt and abrupt about their 
rights ... is because class lines are more sharply drawn there. 
Within these limits, one is likely to develop the habit of demanding 
his dues. He insists on his prerogatives all the more because they 
are narrowly defined. When an English writer ( Jowett) says, 'We 
are not nearly so much afraid of one another as you are in the 
States," he expressed this truth. In a democracy every one at least 
hopes to get on and up. This ascent depends not upon the favor of 
a class, but upon the good-will of the whole. This social whole has 
to be conciliated. It must be conciliated in both directions at the 
top and at the bottom. To make one's self conspicuous and dis- 
agreeable, is to arouse enmities that block one's way. 33 

One may find an elaboration of this causal analysis among many 
writers at diflferent periods. Thus Max Weber, after a visit to America 
in the early 1900's, noted the high degree of "submission to fashion in 
America, to a degree unknown in Germany'* and explained it in terms 
of the lack of inherited class status. 34 Seven decades earlier another 

the sphere of pleasure has itself become a sphere of cares." The Lonely 
Crowd, p, 148. 

Herbert Spencer and Matthew Arnold made similar observations about 
work and play in post-Civil War America. Gabriel Almond cites Spencer as 
reporting that in America, "Exclusive devotion to work has the result that 
amusements cease to please; and when relaxation becomes imperative, life 
becomes dreary from lack of its sole interest the interest in business," and 
states that Arnold felt that Americans **were extremely nervous because of 
excessive worry and overwork." Almond, The American People and Foreign 
Policy, pp. 34-35. 

38 Brooks, As Others See Us, p. 97. 

34 H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, eds., From Max Weber: Essays in 
Sociology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), p. 188. 

116 Stability in the Midst of Change 

German, Francis Grund, who saw in American equality and democracy 
the hope of the world, nevertheless also believed that the ambiguous 
class structure made status-striving tantamount to conformity. He 
presents both sides of the picture in the following items: 

Society in America ... is characterized by a spirit of exclusiveness 
and persecution unknown in any other country. Its gradations not 
being regulated according to rank and tide, selfishness and conceit 
are its principal elements . . * What man is there in this city [New 
York] that dares to be independent, at the risk of being considered 
bad company? And who can venture to infringe upon a single rule 
of society? 

This habit of conforming to each other's opinions, and the penalty 
set upon every transgression of that kind, are sufficient to prevent 
a man from wearing a coat cut in a different fashion, or a shirt 
collar no longer a la mode, or, in fact, to do, say, or appear any- 
thing which could render him unpopular among a certain set. In no 
other place, I believe, is there such a stress laid upon "saving ap- 
pearances." 35 

James Bryce, a half-century later, also linked-^anforHiity to the 
ambiguity of the status system, particularly as it affected the wealthy 
classes. Hepointed out that it was precisely the emphasis on equality, and 

35 Grund, Aristocracy in America, pp. 52, 157. In describing the emerging 
America of pre-Civil War days, Dixon Wecter reports that "already in the 
making was that peculiarly American psychology symbolized in the great 
caravans moving westward of keeping up with one's neighbors, of regard- 
ing solitude and independence as a litde eccentric, if not dangerous. In busi- 
ness and mechanics the most daring of innovators, the American was already 
developing that social and personal timidity, that love of conformity, which 
is the hallmark of the parvenu'' The Saga of American Society (New York: 
Scribner's, 1937), p. 103; see also his comments on p. 314. 

In an essay concerning early Kansas, written in 1910, the historian Carl 
Becker pointed to the interrelationship of intolerance, individualism, and 
equalitarianism in American behavior. He asserted that intolerance has been 
fundamental in the American character. American individualistic values, ac- 
cording to Becker, stress personal achievement, rather than eccentricity; con- 
formity has always been a prerequisite to success. And he notes, as did many 
of the nineteenth-century foreign travelers, that Americans have tolerated 
different religions, but have been intolerant of irreligion. See Carl L. Becker, 
"Kansas," in his Everyman His Oivn Historian (New York: Appleton-Cen- 
tury-Crofts, 1935), pp. 1-28. 

A Changing American Character? 117 

the absence of well-defined rules of deference, which made Americans 
so concerned with the behavior of others and seemingly more, rather than 
less, snobbish toward each other than were comparably placed English- 

It may seem a paradox to observe that a millionaire has a better 
and easier social career open to him in England, than in America. 
... In America, if his private character be bad, if he be mean or 
openly immoral, or personally vulgar, or dishonest, the best society 
may keep its doors closed against him. In England great wealth, 
skillfully employed, will more readily force these doors to open. 
. . . The existence of a system of artificial rank enables a stamp to be 
given to base metal in Europe which cannot be given in a thoroughly 
republican country. 36 

In comparing the reactions of Englishmen and Americans to criticism, 
James Muirhead (the editor of the American Baedeker) stated that "the 
Briton's indifference to criticism is linked to the fact of caste, that it 
frankly and even brutally asserts the essential inequality of man. . . . 
Social adaptability is not his [the Briton's] foible. He accepts the con- 
ventionality of his class and wears it as an impenetrable armor." 37 

A number of the foreign travelers, particularly those who visited 
America after the 1880's, were startled to find overt signs of anti- 
Semitism, such as placards barring Jews from upper-class resorts and 
social clubs which denied them membership. 38 But this, too, could be 
perceived as a consequence of the fact that "the very absence of titular 
distinction often causes the lines to be more clearly drawn; as Mr. 
Charles Dudley Warner says: TPopular commingling in pleasure resorts 
is safe enough in aristocratic countries, but it will not answer in a 
republic.' " 39 The most recent effort by a sociologist, Howard Brotz, to 
account for the greater concern about close contact with Jews in 
America than in England, also suggests that "in a democracy snobbishness 
can be far more vicious than in an aristocracy." 

36 James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 815. 

37 James Fullerton Muirhead, America, the Land of Contrasts: A Britorfs View 
of His American Kin (London: Lemson, Wolffe, 1898), p. 91. 

38 Andrew J. Torrielli, Italian Opinion on America as Revealed by Italian 
Travelers, 1850-1900 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1941), 
p. 99.^ 

39 Muirhead, America, the Land of Contrasts, p. 27. 

118 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Lacking that natural confirmation of superiority which political 
authority alone can give, the rich and particularly the new rich, feel 
threatened by mere contact with their inferiors. . . . Nothing could 
be more fantastic than this to an English lord living in the country 
in the midst, not of other peers, but of his tenants. His position is 
such that he is at ease in the presence of members of the lower 
classes and in associating with them in recreation. ... It is this 
"democratic" attitude which, in the first instance, makes for an 
openness to social relations with Jews* One cannot be declassed, so to 
speak, by play activities. 40 

The intimate connection between other-directedness and equalitarian 
values perceived by these observers recalls the same connection noted 
by Plato in his theoretical analysis of democracy. In The Republic we 
find these words: 

[In a democracy, the father] accustoms himself to become like his 
child and to fear his sons. . . . Metic [resident alien] is like citizen 
and citizen like metic, and stranger like both. . . . The school- 
master fears and flatters his pupils. . . . The young act like their 
seniors, and compete with them in speech and action, while the old 
men condescend to the young and become triumphs of versatility 
and wit, imitating their juniors in order to avoid tie appearance of 
being sour or despotic. . . . And the wonderful equality of law 
and . . . liberty prevails in the mutual relations of men and 
women . . . the main result of all these things, taken together, is that 
it makes the souls of the citizens so sensitive that they take offense 
and will not put up with the faintest suspicion of slavery [strong 
authority] that anyone may introduce. 41 

Plato's analysis points up the main question to which this chapter is 
addressed: Are the conformity and the sensitivity to others "other 
directedness" observed in the contemporary American character solely 

40 Howard Brotz, "The Position of the Jews in English Society," Jewish 
Journal of Sociology, 1 (1959), p. 97. Writing twenty years earlier Dixon 
Wecter also suggested that "the present anti-Semitism of Society as expressed 
in visiting lists, club memberships, and personal attitudes is markedly keener 
in die United States than in England or France, where Rothschilds, for 
example, seem to find virtually no doors barred against them. It is probably 
an aspect of that insecurity, that timidity and conventionalism which looms 
so large in our social picture." The Saga of American Society, p. 152. 

41 Plato, The Republic, Ernest Rhys, ed. (London: J. M. Dent, 1935), pp. 

A Changing American Character? 119 

a function of the technology, and social structure of a bureaucratic, in- 
dusgializecLurban society, as Riesman and Whyte imply, or are they 
also to some considerable degree an expected consequence of a social 
system founded upon the values of equality and achievement? It seems 
that sociological theory, especially as expounded by Max Weber and 
Talcott Parsons, and much historical and comparative evidence, lend 
credence to the belief that the basic value system is at least a major, if 
not the pre-eminent, source of these traits. 

As Plato noted, and as the foreign travelers testify, democratic man 
is deeply imbued with the desire to accommodate to others, which 
results in kindness and generosity in personal relations, and in a reluctance 
to offend. All books that are published are "exalted to the skies," teachers 
"admire their pupils," and flattery is general. 42 The travelers also bear 
out Plato's remarks about the socialization of children in a democracy. 
It appears that equalitarian principles were applied to child-rearing early 
in the history of the republic. Early British opinions of American chil- 
dren have a modern flavor: 

The independence and maturity of American children furnished an- 
other surprise for the British visitor. Children ripened early. . . . 
But such precosity, some visitors feared, was too often achieved 
at the loss of parental control. Combe claimed that discipline was 
lacking in the home, and children did what they pleased. Marryat 
corroborated this. . . . Children were not, whipped here [as in 
England], but treated like rational beings. 43 

42 Martineau, Society in America, VoL ffl, pp. 63-64. 

43 Berger, The British Traveller in America, pp. 83-84. Dixon Wecter, who 
relied more on the French foreign visitors, detailed similar comments and 
reached the same conclusions: "Indeed without some mention of the dictator- 
ship of the young, any chapter on American manners would be incomplete. 
No other country in the world has made so much of its children, or given 
them so free a hand in shaping its customs. ... As early as Revolutionary 
times, French visitors in the more aristocratic households like the Schuylers', 
for example, reported that children were 'spoiled' and 'self willed.* Yet social 
precosity was one evident result of the attention paid them: Bayard describes 
the master of a country house near Winchester, Virginia, where, 'dinner 
hour having sounded, we sat down at a round table, his daughter, nine years 
old, doing the honors very gracefully in the absence of her mother.'" And 
Wecter goes on to report that throughout the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries, "the surprise of visitors from abroad over the autocracy of our 
youth has never ceased." The Saga of American Society, pp. 191-192. 

120 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Harriet Martineau's description of child-rearing in the America of 
Andrew Jackson sounds like a commentary on the progressive other- 
directed parent of the mid-twentieth century: 

My [parent] friend observed that the only thing to be done [in 
child-rearing] is to avoid to the utmost the exercise of authority, and 
to make children friends from the very beginning- . . . They [the 
parents] do not lay aside their democratic principles in this relation, 
more than in others. . . , They watch and guard: they remove 
stumbling blocks: they manifest approbation and disapprobation: 
they express wishes, but, at the same time, study the wishes of their 
little people: they leave as much as possible to natural retribution: 
they impose no opinions, and quarrel with none: in short, they 
exercise the tenderest friendship without presuming upon it. ... 
the children of Americans have the advantage of the best possible 
early discipline; that of activity and self-dependence. 44 

What struck the democratic Miss Martineau as progressive was inter- 
preted quite differently by Anthony Trollope, who visited this country 
in 1860: "I must protest that American babies are an unhappy race. They 
eat and drink as they please; they are never punished; they are never 
banished, snubbed, and kept in the background as children are kept with 
us." 45 And forty years later, another English visitor, typical of the many 
who described American child-parent relations during a century and a 
half, tells us that nowhere else, as in America, "is the child so constantly 
in evidence; nowhere are his wishes so carefully consulted; nowhere is he 
allowed to make his mark so strongly on society. . . . The theory of the 
equality of man is rampant in the nursery. , . . You will actually hear an 
American mother say of a child of two or three years of age: 'I can't 
induce him to do this. . . .' " 46 

44 Martiaeau, Society in America, pp. 168, 177. See also Arthur W. Calhoun, 
A Social History of the American Family from Colonial Times to the 
Present (Cleveland: The Arthur H. dark Co., 1918), Vol. II, pp. 63-64. For a 
thorough documentation of child-centeredness in the nineteenth-century 
American family, see Anne L. Kuhn, The Mother's Role in Childhood Edu- 
cation: New England Concepts, 1830-1860 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale Uni- 
versity Press, 1947). 

45 Anthony Trollope, North America, p. 142; for similar comments see also 
J. S. Buckingham, America: Historical, Statistic, and Descriptive (New York: 
Harper & Bros., 1841), pp. 362-363; J. Boardman, America and the Americans 
(London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman, 1833), p. 
156; Brooks, As Others See Us, pp. 48-50. 

46 Muirhead, America, The Land of Contrasts, pp. 67-68. (Emphasis in 

A Changing American Character? 121 

If these reports from the middle and late nineteenth century are 
reminiscent of contemporary views, it is still more amazing to find, in a 
systematic summary of English travelers' opinion in the last part of the 
eighteenth and early years of the nineteenth centuries, that the emphasis 
on equality and democracy had already created the distinctive American 
child-oriented family which astonished the later visitors: 

A close connection was made by the stranger between the re- 
publican form of government and the unlimited liberty which was 
allowed the younger generation. . . . They were rarely punished at 
home, and strict discipline was not tolerated in the schools. ... It 
was feared that respect for elders or for any other form of authority 
would soon be eliminated from American life. . - . As he could not 
be punished in the school, he learned to regard his teacher as an 
inferior and to disregard all law and order. 47 

Equality was thus perceived by many of the foreign travelers as 
affecting the socialization of the child not only within the family but 
in the school as well. The German psychologist Hugo Miinsterberg 
joins the late-eighteenth-century visitors in complaining, over a cen- 
tury later in 1900, that "the feeling of equality will crop up where 
nature designed none, as for instance between youth and mature years. 
. . . Parents even make it a principle to implore and persuade their chil- 
dren, holding it to be a mistake to compel or punish them; and they 
believe that the schools should be conducted in the same spirit." 48 Various 
visitors were struck by the extent to which the schools did carry out 
this objective. The following description by an Englishman of schools in 
the New York area in 1833 sounds particularly modern: 

The pupils are entirely independent of their teacher. No correction, 
no coercion, no manner of restraint is permitted to be used. * . 
Parents also have as little control over their offspring at home, as 
the master has at school. . - . Corporal punishment has almost dis- 

47 Mesick, The English Traveller in America, pp. 83-84. A detailed summary 
of the opinion of foreign travelers concerning the indulgent, child-centered, 
pre-Qvil War family may be found in "The Emancipation of Childhood," 
in Calhoun, A Social History of the American Family, Vol. n, pp. 50-77. 
Calhoun also tells us that the freedom of children was "attributed ... to 
the spirit of republicanism. . . . All men are sovereigns. Personality is exalted; 
and the political status overflows and democratizes family institutions." Ibid., 
p. 53. 

48 Hugo Miinsterberg, The Americans (New York: McQnre, Phillips, 1904), 
p. 28. 

122 Stability in the Midst of Change 

appeared from American day-schools; and a teacher, who should 
now give recourse at such means of enforcing instruction, would 
meet with reprehension from the parents and perhaps retaliation 
from his scholars. 4 * 

Tocqueville also found examples of the American's mistrust of author- 
ity "even in the schools," where he marveled that "the children in their 
games are wont to submit to rules which they have themselves estab- 
lished" 50 

The educational policies which have become linked with the name 
of John Dewey and labeled "progressive education" actually began in a 
number of school systems around the country long before Dewey wrote 
on the subject: "To name but one example, the lower schools of St. 
Louis had adopted a system intended to develop spontaneously the 
inventive and intellectual faculties of the children by the use of games 
and with no formal teaching of ideas, no matter how practical." 51 

The Inadequacy of a Materialistic Interpretation of Change 

Many of the foreign observers referred to above explained the other- 
directedness and status-seeking of Americans by the prevalence of the 
twin values of equality and achievement. Character and behavior were 
thus explained by values. They pointed out that the ethic of equality 
not only pervaded status relations but that it influenced the principal 
spheres of socialization, the family, and the school, as well. 

Both Whyte's and Riesman's arguments, in contrast, explain character 
and values by reference to the supposed demands of a certain type of 
economy and its unique organization. The economy, in order to be 
productive, requires certain types of individuals, and requires that they 
hold certain values. In the final analysis, theirs is a purely materialistic 
interpretation of social phenomena and is open to the criticisms to which 
such interpretations are susceptible. 

The inadequacy of such an explanation of change in values and social 
character is best demonstrated by comparative analysis. British and 
Swedish societies, for example, have for many decades possessed oc- 
cupational structures similar to that of America. Britain, in fact, reached 

49 Isaac Fidler, Observations in Professions, Literature, Manners and Emi- 
gration, in the United States and Canada, Made During a Residence There in 
1832 (New York: J. and J. Harper, 1833), pp. 40-41. 

50 Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. I, p. 198. 
51 Torriefli, Italian Opinion on America, p. 115. 

A Changing American Character? 123 

the stage of an advanced industrial society, thoroughly urbanized, where 
the majority of the population worked for big business or government, 
long before any other nation. The occupational profiles of Sweden, 
Germany, and the United States have been similar for decades. If the 
causal connection between technology and social character were direct, 
then the patterns described as typical of "other-direction" or "the organi- 
zation man" should have occurred in Great Britain prior to their occur- 
rence in the United States, and should now be found to predominate in 
other European nations. Yet "other-direction" and the "social ethic" 
appear to be pre-eminently American traits. In Europe, one sees the 
continued, even though declining, strength of deferential norms, enjoining 
conformity to class standards of behavior. 

Thus, comparative analysis strikingly suggests that the derivation of 
social character almost exclusively from the traits associated with oc- 
cupational or population profiles is invalid. So important an element in 
a social system as social character must be deeply affected by the 
dominant value system. For the value system is perhaps the most 
enduring part of what we think of as society, or a social system. Com- 
parative history shows that nations may still present striking differences, 
even when their technological, demographic, or political patterns are 
similar. Thus it is necessary to work out the implications of the value 
system within a given material setting while always observing, of 
course, the gradual, cumulative effect that technological change has upon 

In attempting to determine how American values have been inter- 
twined with the profound changes that have taken place in American 
society, it is not sufficient to point out that American values are 
peculiarly congenial to change. Although equality and achievement have 
reinforced each other over the course of American history, they have 
never been entirely compatible either. Many of the changes that have 
taken place in family structure, education, religion, and "culture," as 
America has become a "modern" society, have manifested themselves 
in a constant conflict between the democratic e^piaUrmsuiism, proclaimed 
as a national ideal in the basic documents of the American Revolution, 
and the strong emphasis on competition, success, and the acquisition of 
status the achievement orientation which is also deeply embedded in 
our national value system. 

Richard Hofstadter has urged the recurring pattern of value conflict 
and continuity in commenting on papers presented at a conference on 
changes in American society: 

12 4 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Culturally and anthropologically, human societies are cast in a 
great variety of molds, but once a society has been cast in its mold 
Mr. Rostow is right that our mold as a nation was established by the 
early nineteenth century the number of ways in which, short of 
dire calamity, it will alter its pattern are rather limited. I find it 
helpful also to point to another principle upon which Mr. Rostow 
has remarked the frequency with which commentators find socie- 
ties having certain paradox polarities in them. . . . We may find in 
this something functional; that is, Societies have a need to find ways 
of checking their own tendencies. In these polarities there may be 
something of a clue to social systems. . . . 

Mr. Kluckhohn's report contains some evidence that we have 
already passed the peak of this shift about which I have been speak- 
ing. I find some additional evidence myself in the growing revolt of 
middle-class parents against those practices in our education that 
seem to sacrifice individualism and creativity for adjustment and 
group values. Granted the initial polarities of the success ethic, 
which is one of the molds in which our society is cast, this ethic must 
in some way give rise, sooner or later, to a reaction. ... I do not 
think that we must be persuaded that our system of values has 
ceased to operate. 62 

The analyses of American history and culture in the nineteenth and 
twentieth centuries, by both foreign and native interpreters, often differ 
according to whether they stress democracy and equality, or capitalism 
and achievement Generally, conservatives have found fault with the 
decline of individuality and the pampering of children, and have seen 
both as manifestations of democracy and equality; while liberals have 
noted, with dismay, tendencies toward inequality and aristocracy, and 
have blamed them upon the growth of big business. These contrary 
political philosophies have also characterized the interpretation of Ameri- 
can culture that predominates at any given period. Arthur Schlesinger, 
Sr., has even tried to measure the systematic characteristic duration of 
the "epochs of radicalism and conservatism [that] have followed each 
other in alternating order" in American history. 58 

A cursory examination of the numerous differences between the con- 

52 Richard Hofstadter, "Commentary: Have There Been Discernible Shifts 
in Values During the Past Generation?" in Elting E. Morison, ed., The 
American Style: Essays in Value and Performance (New York: Harper & 
Bros., 1958), p. 357. (Emphasis mine.) 

63 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., New Viewpoints in American History (New 
York: Macmillan, 1922), p, 123. 

A Changing American Character? 125 

elusions of American social scientists in the 1930's and in the 1950's shows 
the way in which interpretations of American culture vary with social 
conditions. Writers of the 1930's amassed evidence of the decline of 
equalitarianism and the effect of this on a variety of institutions. Karen 
Horney in The Neurotic Personality of Our Time, for example, named 
anxiety over chances of economic success as the curse of what she, with 
many of her contemporaries, regarded as a completely pecuniary, achieve- 
ment-oriented culture dominated by the giant corporations. Such analysts 
as Robert S. Lynd, and W. L. Warner all agreed that the egalitarian 
emphasis in American democracy was declining sharply under the growth 
of the large-scale corporation, mono^^-^pitalism, and economic com- 
petition. 54 They asserted categoriaJ^r35tmobility had decreased, and 
Warner predicted the development of rigid status lines based on family 

Twenty years later, these interpretations are almost unamimously-rj^ 
jeqtgfl. Warner himself in one of his most recent works, shows that 
chances of rising into the top echelons of the largest corporations are 
greater than they were in the 1920's. 55 As indicated earlier in this 
chapter, typical writers of the 1950's are concerned that the emphasis on 
achievement in American society may be dying out. 

In large measure, the difference between writers of the two decades 
reflects the contrast between the economic circumstances of the times. 
The depression of the 1930's inclined intellectuals toward an equalitarian 
radicalism, which condemned capitalism and achievement orientation as 
the source of evils. Even a conservative like Warner was led to emphasize 
the growth of inequality and the restriction of opportunity. The pros- 
perity of the 1950's, however, renewed the legitimacy of many con- 
servative institutions and values, and discredited some of the innovations 
of the previous decades. The social analyses of the 1950's, even those 
written by men who still considered themselves liberals or socialists, 
involved at least a critique of the radical excesses of the former period, 
if not a critique of equalitarian values themselves. Perhaps the similarity 
in attitudes between the analysts of the 1950's and many of the foreign 
travelers of the last century is due to the fact that most of the European 

54 Robert S. Lynd, Knowledge for What? (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Uni- 
versity Press; 1940), p. 75; Harold Laski, The American Democracy (New 
York: Viking Press, 1948); W. L. Warner and Paul S. Lunt, The Social Life 
of a Modem Community (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1941). 

55 W. L. Warner and J. C. Abegglen, Occupational Mobility in American 
'Business and Industry (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1953). 

126 Stability in the Midst of Change 

visitors have been conservatives, or members of the elite of much more 
aristocratic societies, and the modern Americans reflect the post-war 
revival of conservative values. 

While Riesman and Whyte would deny that their works contain 
conservative value preferences, and insist that they are simply analyzing 
changes, it seems fairly evident that like the more elitist travelers of the 
nineteenth century, they deplore many of the dominant trends. They 
point to the spread of progressive education, with its disbelief in rewards 
for hard work, as illustrating the decay of the Protestant ethic, and they 
assume, as a result of this, a decline in the opportunity for developing 
creativity. Whyte points to the shift in scientific research from individual 
to group projects, which in his opinion are less creative. Neither 
Riesman nor Whyte explicitly asserts that there is more conformity now 
than in the past, for the reason that men have always conformed to the 
values of die day; but both argue that contemporary values and 
personality traits emphasize accommodation to others, while the declining 
Protestant ethic and the inner-directed character structure stressed con- 
formity to a fixed rule of conduct rather than to the fluctuating actions 
and moods of others. 56 

This reaction against the apparent decline of the Protestant ethic of 

56 It is ironic to note that most contemporary discussions which employ 
Weber's concept of the Protestant ethic to typify a certain type of behavior, 
which is then contrasted with other-directed behavior, ignore the fact that, 
to Weber, one of the significant components distinguishing ascetic Protestant- 
ism, and particularly Calvinism, from other religious ethics was precisely its 
use of the need to conform to the judgment of others as a means of enforcing 
discipline: "The member of the sect (or conventicle) had to have qualities 
of a certain kind in order to enter the community circle. ... In order to 
hold his own in this circle, the member had to prove repeatedly that he was 
endowed with these qualities. . . . According to all experience there is no 
stronger means of breeding traits than through the necessity of holding one's 
own in the circle of one's associates. . . . The Puritan sects put the most 
powerful individual interest of social self-esteem in the service of this breed- 
ing of traits ... to repeat, it is not the ethical doctrine of a religion, but that 
form of ethical conduct upon which premiums are placed that matters. . . . 
The premiums were placed upon 'proving* oneself before God in the sense of 
attaining salvation which is found in all Puritan denominations and 'prov- 
ing' oneself before men in the sense of socially holding one's own within 
the Puritan sects." A key difference between the Puritans and the Lutherans 
and Catholics, in Weber's judgment, lies in this extensive use of an appeal to 
"social self-esteem" or the power of group opinion by the former, and 
imposing religious discipline "through authoritarian means" and punishing or 
placing premiums on "concrete individual acts," by the latter. Gerth and Mills, 
eds,, From Max Weber, pp. 320-321. 

A Changing American Character? 127 

achievement and hard work, which has become a dominant theme among 
the intellectual middle class of the 1950's and early 1960's, should be 
viewed as the counterpart of the concern with the seeming breakdown of 
equality which moved comparable groups in the 1930's. The differences 
in the concerns of the two periods illustrate the important point that 
although the equalitarian ethos of the American Revolution and the 
achievement orientation of the Protestant ethic are mutually supporting, 
they also involve normative conflict. Complete commitment to equality 
involves rejecting some of the implications of valuing achievement; and 
the opposite is also true. Thus, when the equalitarianism of left or liberal 
politics is dominant, there is a reaction against achievement, and when 
the values of achievement prevail in a conservative political and economic 
atmosphere, men tend to depreciate some of the consequences of equality, 
such as the influence of popular taste on culture. 

The supremacy of equalitarian values and liberal politics in the 1930's 
was reflected in the school system in the triumph of progressive edu- 
cation, a cause always associated with left-of-center leaders and ideologies; 
in industry, by the introduction of the human relations approach as an 
attempt to "keep the worker happy"; and in the society at large by 
efforts toward a general redistribution of goods and services. Social 
scientists and others interested in family structure criticized the sup- 
posedly typical middle-class family as too authoritarian and rigid in its 
treatment of children, suggesting that, in contrast to the more democratic 
and affectionate working-class family, it bred "authoritarian" and "neu- 
rotic" personalities. Popular psychology saw the "competitive personality" 
of our time as the source of many personal and social evils. Historians 
pictured the creators of American industry as "robber barons" and as 
irresponsible exploiters of American resources. 

This equalitarian liberalism was perhaps strongest in the school system, 
where educators carried the ideal of equal treatment to a point where 
even intellectual differences were ignored. Special encouragement of the 
gifted child was regarded as an unfair privilege that inflicted psychic 
punishment on the less gifted: personality adjustment for all became the 
objective. In New York City, Fiorello La Guardia, the militant progres- 
sive mayor, abolished Townsend Harris High School a special school 
for gifted boys in which four years of work was completed in three 
on die grounds that the very existence of such a school was undemo- 
cratic, because it conferred special privileges on a minority. 

In the prosperous 1950's and 1960's, these tendencies have been almost 
completely reversed- Big business and business careers once more have 
become legitimate. The Republicans held office in the 1950's, and cen- 

128 Stability in the Midst of Change 

trists rather than liberals dominate the revived Democratic Party of the 
1960's. Although Keynesian economics has remained official govern- 
ment policy, and is still supported by most economists, some leading 
members of that profession have emerged who oppose almost all govern- 
ment intervention. 57 Studies of the social structure of the family have 
reversed the findings of the 1930's, suggesting that it is the working- 
class family that is more likely to be a source of "authoritarian" per- 
sonality traits. Vulgarizations of the theses of Riesman and Whyte have 
been published in many magazines and are cited at P.T.A. meetings all 
over the country, where outraged middle-class parents demand a return 
to "old-fashioned" methods of teaching, in which hard work is rewarded 
and the gifted receive special attention. 58 Many middle-class parents 
have placed their children in private schools. While the rapid growth 
of private schools in large part stems from the increasing prosperity of the 
country, it also reflects the desire of middle-class parents that their 
children receive an elite education. 

The political battle between the reactions stemming from the pre-war 
depression and those reflecting the post-war prosperity, between equality 
and achievement, has been most conspicuously joined today in the 
debate over schools. As the "progressive educationalists" begin to counter- 
attack, they appeal specifically to the values of equality and democracy. 
A speech by Professor A. Harry Passow of Columbia University Teach- 
ers' College attacked a proposal to create twenty-five elite high schools 
for gifted children in the following terms: "It is a perversion of democ- 
racy to set aside certain youngsters and give them privileges which 
automatically set them apart as an elite group of society. It goes against 
the basic idea of American education, which is to give all children an 
equal opportunity for the best possible education." 59 

57 For example, Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago even advocates 
that the entire educational system from elementary school on up be placed 
under private ownership, since only through economic competition can we 
be assured of securing the best system. 

58 It should be noted again that the available evidence does not confirm the 
assumptions that educational standards have declined, as judged by the 
records and abilities of entering college freshmen over a thirty-year period. 
In addition, more teenagers are learning Greek and Latin and foreign lan- 
guages now than in 1900, largely as a result of the great spread of educational 
facilities, though it is true that the proportion of students studying classical 
tongues has declined greatly. 

59 See "Plan of Schools for *Elite' Scored," The New York Times, March 25, 
1958, p. 25. 

A Changing American Character? 129 

A leading expert, who has testified before Congressional committees for 
the past twenty years or more concerning the need for educational re- 
search, once reported that when a committee was discussing research 
on underprivileged or mentally deficient children, the Democrats on the 
committee would exhibit great interest; but when the committee turned 
to the question of the gifted child, the Republicans perked up and the 
Democrats sat back. The two parties did not, of course, oppose each 
other formally on these questions, since both favored research on all 
questions; but Republicans were simply more interested in achievement, 
or the problem of the gifted child, while Democrats were more interested 
in equality, or the problem of the underprivileged. 

To stress the coincidence of these differing interpretations of Ameri- 
can social trends with the political and economic cycle is not to suggest 
that they are simply ideological reflections of material conditions or of 
the climate of opinion. Most of them have pointed out genuine aspects of 
the culture, and in so doing have improved our understanding of the 
functions of different institutions and values. Both strands, the equalitarian 
and the achievement-oriented, remain strong, but changing conditions 
sometimes fortify one at the expense of the other, or alter the internal 
content of each. Thus opportunity, as measured by the chances of success 
in building up a major enterprise of one's own, has given way to op- 
portunity measured by advancement in the bureaucratic elites. 60 The 
politics of liberalism and equality have fostered institutional changes, 
such as the constant spread of public education and of training facilities 
within corporations, which have increased opportunities for advance- 


This chapter essentially has urged that a materialistic interpretation of 
American society sharply underestimates the extent to which basic 
national values, once institutionalized, give shape to the consequences of 

60 It should be noted, however, that the desire and the number of attempts 
to start one's own small business certainly do not seem to have abated in 
this country, unless past rates were fantastically high. Survey studies indicate 
that the majority of American workers have drought of going into business, 
and that a fifth of them actually have once owned a small business. Con- 
versely, of those in small businesses, 20 per cent have previously been 
manual workers. S. M. Lipset and R. Bendix, Social Mobility in Indusmd 
Society (Berkeley: University of Calif ornia Press, 1959), p. 102. 

130 Stability in the Midst of Change 

technological and economic change. 61 Clearly, many nations may be 
described as urbanized, industrialized, and capitalist, but they vary con- 
siderably in their status systems, their political institutions, parent-child 
relations, and so forth. The absence of a feudal past, with a concomitant 
emphasis on equality of manners and of opportunity, has played a major 
role in differentiating American behavior from that of other nations. 

On the other hand, it may be argued that the entire Western world has 
been moving in the American direction in their patterns of class relation- 
ships, family structure, and "other-directedness," and that America, which 
was democratic and equalitarian before industrialization, has merely led 
the way in these patterns. Thus, at any given time, the differences be- 
tween America and much of Europe may have remained constant, but 
this difference might have represented little more than a time kg. 

If one compares the America of the 1960's with the America of the 
1880's or the 1830's one would undoubtedly note changes in the direction 
suggested by Riesman. The vast majority of early- and mid-nineteenth- 
century Americans were self-employed and lived on farms or in small 
towns, while today most people are employees and live in cities. This 
change alone has many consequences along the lines suggested by The 
Lonely Crowd: 

We can contrast the small grocer who must please his individual pa- 
trons, perhaps by a "counter-side manner," with the chain-store 
employee who must please both the patrons and his co-workers. . . . 

61 In this discussion I have not been concerned with the truth of Riesman's 
description of the changes in technology and in the nature of the economy. 
One must be warned, however, against overestimating the drastic and far- 
reaching nature of these changes. For example, the common image of profes- 
sional occupation is that they are increasingly embedded in bureaucratic 
structures, while they were formerly free of such structures. While this may 
be true of some professions, it is not true of others. Daniel Calhoun, in his 
recent study of American civil engineers, argues: "When a twentieth-cen- 
tury writer describes the earlier engineer as 'free and named on his own 
shingle, 7 he was slipping into a romantic notion of nineteenth-century society. 
This notion applies not to the typical nineteenth-century engineer, but to the 
exceptional or cantankerous individual. Almost as soon as American internal 
improvements became extensive enough to give the civil engineer much 
employment, the engineer became an organization man, a respectable member 
of a bureaucracy." See Daniel Hoven Calhoun, The American Civil Engineer: 
Origiw and Conflict (Cambridge, Mass.: Technology Press, 1960), pp. 194- 
195. Calhoun's reference is to C. Wright Mills' description of the engineer 
in White Cottar. But when Riesman speaks of die inner-directed man as 
"wanting to build a bridge, to run a railroad," (The Lonely Crowd, p. 120), 
he presumably has the image of the engineer in the back of his mind. 

A Changing American Character? 131 

The colleague, like the peer-grouper, is the very person with whom 
one engages in competition for die scarce commodity of approval 
and the very person to whom one looks for guidance as to what is 
desirable. 62 

The entrepreneur becomes an "other-directed person [who] gives up the 
one-face policy of the inner-directed man for a multiface policy that he 
sets in secrecy and varies with each set of encounters." 63 An employee 
has less freedom and motivation to be individualistic than does the self- 
employed. Farm and small-town dwellers know each other as total human 
beings rather than as actors in specific relations, and are presumably less 
motivated to exhibit status-seeking or to seek the good opinion of those 
whom they have known all their lives and who are "significant others" in 
a variety of limited contexts. 64 Residents of small communities are judged 
by their total background and personal history and by any specific set of 

62 P. 140. (Emphasis mine.) 
^ Ibid., p. 147. 

64 However, it should be noted that an early history of the state of Illinois, 
written by a man who pioneered in the state, reports that the desire to be 
admired by others at the major social event of the week, Sunday church 
services, played an important role in stimulating general ambition: "For this 
advancement in civilization, the young people were much indebted to their 
practice of attending church on Sundays. Here they were regularly brought 
together at stated times; and their meeting, if it affected no better end, at least 
accustomed them to admire and wish to be admired. Each one wanted to make 
as good a figure as he could; and to that end came to meeting well-dressed and 
clean. . . . With pride of dress came ambition, industry, the desire of knowl- 
edge, and a love of decency. It has been said that civilization is a forced state 
of mind, to which [man] is stimulated by a desire to gratify artificial wants. 
. . ." Thomas Ford, History of Illinois (Chicago: S. Q Griggs, 1854), pp. 

In contrast, Albert Blumenthal emphasized that "putting on a front" in 
order to lay claim to a higher social status than one is entitled to is usually 
unsuccessful in a small town. He stated, "He who would indulge in pretense in 
Mineville must be very cautious lest he be wasting his time or be making 
himself a target for scorn, ridicule, or amusement. To be sure, a certain 
amount of bluffing can be done since, after all, persons have some privacy, 
even in Mineville. But this bluffing must not be of a sort that easily can be 
uncovered, for the people have litde patience with pretenders. Persons long 
in the community know that there is scant use for them to *put on front' 
of the more obvious sort such as by the wearing of fine clothes or the 
purchasing of a cosdy automobile. ... By a ferreting-out process the people 
soon discover whether or not a newcomer 'has anything to be stack up 
about." 5 Small-Town Stuff (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932), 
pp. 104-105. 

132 Stability in the Midst of Change 

acts. As many sociological studies of such communities have revealed, 
they tend to have a relatively static status system, permitting much less 
social mobility than that occurring in large cities. Consequently, the res- 
ident of the small town tends to be somewhat like the citizens of more 
rigidly stratified European states. The awareness of the relative perma- 
nence of status position reduces the anxiety to win the good opinion of 
others that exists where status is less stable. 

There can be little question that Riesman and Whyte are right also in 
showing how bureaucratization and urbanization reinforce those social 
mechanisms which breed other-directedness. Success in a bureaucracy, 
and in the proliferating service occupations of modern society, depends 
primarily on the ability to get along well with others. 

But it cannot be stressed too often that these mechanisms operate 
within the context of an historic American value-system and status struc- 
ture that had also generated such traits in a non-bureaucratic and non- 
urban society. Other-direction, or, to put it less dramatically, sensitivity 
to the judgments of others, is an epiphenomenon of the American equali- 
tarian ethos, of the opportunities for rapid status mobility, and of the gen- 
eral growth of an urban, bureaucratic society. 65 The increasing complex- 
ity introduced by industrialization and urbanization makes adherence to 
a rigid normative code obsolete, because such a code cannot be used as a 
guide to the great variety of situations confronting modern, bureaucratic 
man. ThisJ^iesman and,Whjte have well noted. However, the greater 
flexibility and need to adapt to others that are demanded by urban and 
bureaucratic life add to an already existing disposition to be concerned 
with the opinions of others, a disposition caused by equalitarianism and 
by the emphasis placed on social mobility. 

Even despite the changes brought about by urbanization and bureau- 

65 In commenting on the analyses of various, more psychologically oriented, 
writers who preceded Riesman in describing "other-directed" character 
traits (which, however, they tended to explain psychologically rather than 
sociologically, that is, by the patterns of child-rearing in die modern Ameri- 
can family rather than by the structural changes that seemingly underlie 
these changes in child-rearing), Gabriel Almond also points up the dual 
causal pattern. "De Tocqueville attributed it [American confonnism] to 
competitiveness and the equality of conditions of the American people. It is, 
of course, both factors taken together. What Homey, Fromm and Mead have 
done is to trace this and other tendencies from aspects of the culture, to 
patterns of child rearing in the family, to adult behavior." Almond, The 
American People and Foreign Policy, p. 43. 

A Changing American Character? 133 

cratization, Americans still, appear to be quite achievement oriented when 
compared to persons from more jtatus-bound nations. Foreign travelers 
are still strucE" by the individual American's striving to get ahead. 66 In- 
deed, there is some evidence that the higher valuation placed on social 
skills in present American socialization practices is precisely oriented to- 
ward upward social mobility in contemporary society. A study compar- 
ing British and American beliefs about socialization points out that while 
it places "getting along with others" as the most important aim of sociali- 
zation, the American pattern differs from the British in that it aims "at a 
smoothly functioning individual, equipped for getting ahead with a varied 
armament of social skills."* 7 

Some evidence that achievement still ranks high in the United States 
as compared to other nations may be seen in the data from a comparative 
study of the attitudes of school youth in five countries the United States, 
Norway, West Germany, England, and France. Surprisingly, at least so 
far as concerns the expectations of the researchers, American children 
were less "other-directed" than those in the European countries, except 
Norway, as judged by their responses to the question: 'Would you rather 
be the most popular person in your class or die one who gets the highest 
grades?" Among both ten-year-olds and fourteen-year-olds, Americans 
were more likely to prefer high grades to popularity than were German, 
English, and French youth. 

Another indicator of the relatively high level of concern for academic 
achievement may be seen in the response to a question concerning anxi- 

66 Arvid Brodersen comments in this way on the beliefs of prominent foreign 
visitors about the typical value orientations of the American people: "[They] 
repeated the pattern of positive-negative reciprocity stressing notions such as 
'hard-working/ 'active,* and 'energetic' as well as 'materialistic,' 'ambitious,* 
'rush all the time."' Arvid Brodersen, "Themes in the Interpretation of 
America by Prominent Visitors from Abroad/' The Annals of the American 
Academy of Political and Social Science, 295 (1954), pp. 21-32. Comments by 
Indian students in America reflect the same traits. "They are constantly in a 
hurry to get done whatever they are doing and give very litde thought to the 
meaning of what they are doing. They see only the material values in life 
get more money, get more luxuries. . . . Most [Indian students] are captivated 
by the opportunities for an open class system with its ample chances to climb 
on the basis of ability and work with the widespread sharing of a high 
standard of living." Ruth Hill Useem and John Useem, "Images of the United 
States and Britain Held by Foreign Educated Indians," The Annals of the 
American Academy of Political and Social Studies, 295 (1954), pp. 73-82. 

67 Maurice L. Farber, "English and American Values in the Socialization 
Process," Journal of Psychology, 36 (1953), pp. 243-250. 

134 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Table I 

Preference for Highest Grades Rather than Popularity among 
Students in Five Nations 


Nation 10 year olds 14 year olds Combined ages 

Norway 86% 83% 85% 

United States 82 63 73 

West Germany 62 50 56 

England 63 45 54 

France 53 30 42 

Source: George Gallup and Evan Hill, "Is European Education Better than Ours?" 
The Saturday Evening Post, 233 (Dec. 24, I960), $ 70 

ety over school examinations. American and French youth led in the 
proportion who reported worrying about exams (63 per cent); Nor- 
wegians were slightly less anxious as a group (60 per cent), while English 
and German students showed considerably less concern (48 and 28 per 

Comparative evidence that achievement orientation and other-directed- 
ness may, in fact, be mutually reinforcing has been presented by David 
McClelland as a conclusion of his extensive comparative studies of the 
psychological processes which are related to economic development. He 
suggests that " 'other-directedness' is an essential feature of rapid eco- 
nomic development even in its early stages, rather than a special feature 
of advanced urban culture in the United States as Riesman suggests." 69 As 
he puts it: 

[W]hat a modern society needs for successful development is flexi- 
bility in a man's role relationships. His entire network of relations 
to others should not be traditionally determined by his caste or even 
his occupational status. . . . The transition to the new order is cer- 
tainly likely to be helped if people can learn to listen to what "other 
people" say is the right thing to do. 70 

68 George Gallup and Evan Hill, "Is European Education Better than Ours?" 
The Saturday Evening Post, 233 (Dec. 24, 1960), p. 73. 
6& David C. McClelland, The Achieving Society (Princeton, N.J.: Van 
Nostrand, 1961), p. 192. 

A Changing American Character? 135 

An increase in other-directedness helps facilitate economic development 
by making individuals more receptive to "the opinion of the 'generalized 
other/ " It creates greater willingness to accept new norms or techniques, 
and it helps reduce particularistic ties, thus facilitating the operation of 
pure market criteria. 

To test the hypothesis of the interrelationship of other-directedness 
and achievement orientation, McClelland analyzed children's readers from 
over thirty countries in 1925 and 1950 by coding the themes of the sto- 
ries in terms of measures of other-directedness and achievement motiva- 
tion. Countries were then classified as above or below the median score 
for other-directedness and achievement motivation in each period. Na- 
tions could be categorized as high on both dimensions, low on both, or 
high on one and low on the other. Looking then at the various countries 
and the extent to which they grew economically during the succeeding 
years (as indicated by growth in electric power), McClelland found that 
nations which were high on both factors greatly outperformed countries 
which were low on both, '"whereas those that were high on one and low 
on the other showed an average gain somewhere in between." 71 

It may come as something of a shock to realize that more could 
have been learned about the rate of future economic growth of a 
number of these countries in 1925 or 1950 by reading elementary 
school books than by studying such presumably more relevant mat- 
ters as power politics, wars and depressions, economic statistics, or 
government policies governing international trade, taxation, or pub- 
lic finance. The reason apparently lies in the fact that the readers 
reflect sufficiently accurately the motives and values of key groups 
of men in a country which in the long run determine the general 
drift of economic and political decisions and their effect on produc- 
tivity. Economic and political policies are of course the means by 
which economic change is brought about, but whether policies will 
be implemented, or even decided on in the first place, appears to 
depend ultimately on the motives and values of men as we have suc- 
ceeded in detecting them in the stories which they think it is right 
for their children to read. 72 

The two orientations of other-directedness and achievement motivation, 
therefore, may be viewed as mutually supportive, rather than, as Riesman 
and Whyte suggest, mutually contradictory. 

pp. 201-202. 
p. 202. 

136 Stability in the Midst of Change 

The concern with specifying how various structural changes have weak- 
ened the Protestant ethic or inner-directed traits in American life has led 
Riesman and others sometimes to ignore the beneficial consequences of 
these changes. Thus, I have pointed out elsewhere that while bureaucrati- 
zation results in a heightened need to make personality adjustments to 
win the esteem of colleagues and supervisors, it also sets bounds to arbi- 
trary power. By establishing rules of fair treatment, and by reducing the 
area of personal discretion in personnel policy, bureaucracy can reduce 
the fear of the employer or of the supervisor. 78 Trade unions, found most 
commonly under conditions of large industry, accurately reflect their 
member's desires when their policies involve more, rather than less, bu- 
reaucratization of factory life. (As an example of this, unions have sought 
seniority rules in hiring, firing, and promoting, which increase bureaucrati- 
zation and reduce arbitrary power.) 

Similarly, it may be urged that some of the consequences of bureau- 
cratization reinforce, rather than weaken, strong work and achievement 
orientations, particularly but not exclusively 74 in the upper echelons 
of white-collar and executive life. The shift from the family-owned com- 
pany to the management-run corporation, as Whyte pointed out, has 
made group activities and adjustment to group norms seem more impor- 
tant than before. But whatever else group dynamics in industry may be 
concerned with, it certainly provides an excellent way of getting men 
to work hard for the company. Traditionally, it has been a postulate of 
business management, and an empirical finding of industrial sociology, 
that men do not work as hard as they are able when the rewards of their 
work seem to be going to others. Holding other factors constant, no one 
works so hard as the head of an organization, or the self-employed or 

73 S. M. Lipset, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Garden City, N.Y.: 
Doubleday, 1960), p. 414. 

74 In the midst of the greatest prosperity in history, the U.S. Census reported 
that in the summer of 1957, three and a half million workers had two jobs, 
with the second job averaging twelve hours per week. In Akron, Ohio, 
where many rubber workers were on a six-hour day and a five-day week, at 
relatively high pay, and where a sizable proportion of wives were employed, 
it was estimated that among the men "from one in seven down to one in five 
rubber workers holds a second full-time job. ... In addition, something like 
40 per cent engage in some sort of part-time outside work . . . the shorter 
day even with a higher pay scale, increases the number of men who obtain 
second jobs . . ." August Heckscher, "Time, Work and Leisure/' Political 
Research: Organization and Design (PROD), 1 (1958), p. 156. 

A Changing American Character? 137 

the creative professional who is directly rewarded for his labors. By ex- 
tending the control of work to committees at different levels in the cor- 
poration, contemporary American business has found a means of inculcat- 
ing into a large number of people a sense of responsibility for the whole 
organization. <c Non-owners" now feel individually responsible, and the 
number of hard-working executives who never watch the clock, and 
who take work home with them, has been enormously enlarged. Thus, 
while other-direction may have increased, the motivation for com- 
petition and hard work remains, because the best are chosen to move up 
the bureaucratic hierarchy. 

It is a peculiar paradox that the same structural processes may account 
for diverse and even sharply conflicting tendencies. Many analyses of 
American society have stressed the fact that individualism and conform- 
ism, creative innovation and dominance by low-level mass taste, are out- 
growths of identical forces. For example, the pronounced spread of 
higher education and a high standard of living have caused an unprece- 
dented increase in both die proportion of the population involved in 
genuinely creative, intellectual activities, and the influence by the popu- 
lace on the major expressions of art, literature, and drama. 75 Alexis de 
Tocqueville was fully aware of these dual tendencies when he pointed 
out that "the same equality that renders him [The American] independent 
of each of his fellow citizens, taken severally, exposes him alone and un- 
protected to the influence of the greater number. ... I very clearly dis- 
cern two tendencies; one leading the mind of every man to untried 
thoughts, the other prohibiting him from thinking at all." 76 

Today, too, there are many trends making for an increase in autono- 

75 Daniel Miller and Guy Swanson state, in their detailed study of changes 
in the American family: "[W]e wish to urge that serious consideration be 
given to the possibility advanced here that bureaucratization has begun to 
provide a new level of security and comfort for Americans and a new sense 
of participation in a responsible moral community. As a consequence, we are 
less disposed than some commentators to see the growth of 'do-it-yourself 
projects and of adult education and the apparent increase of interest in 
morality and religion as symptoms of a population withdrawing from a 
complicated and confusing world. Instead, we suggest that these may well 
signify the seizing of newly available opportunities for self-expression in the 
fine and practical arts, for the development of sophistication about leisure, 
and for a confronting of the problems of the relations of man to his fellows 
and to history." Daniel R. Miller and Guy E. Swanson, The Changing 
American Parent (New York: John Wiley, 1958), p. 212. 

76 Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. I, p. 12. 

138 Stability in the Midst of Change 

mous behavior, in free choice. Various social scientists have recently 
begun to document these countervailing tendencies, a phenomenon that 
may reflect the ever-present cyclical pattern of social analysis. Rowland 
Berthoff points to the seeming "gradual decline since 1920 of those make- 
shift communities, the fraternal lodges," which were part of the associa- 
tional pattern that impressed Tocqueville, and suggests that "the psychic 
energy that Americans formerly expended on maintaining the jerry-built 
framework of such 'institutions' as these has in our more assured insti- 
tutional structure of recent years been freed, at least potentially, for the 
creation of more valuable kinds of 'culture.' " He also infers that "the re- 
cent popular success of books deploring the unworthiness of status striv- 
ing indicates that Americans are throwing off this obsession and making 
it, as in other societies, including preindustrial America, merely one con- 
cern among many/' 77 Robert Wood suggests, in the same vein, that "the 
pattern of inconspicuous consumption, the web of friendship, and the out- 
going life that Whyte describes also have something of the flavor of a 
renaissance. Although ^keeping down with the Joneses' may indicate 
group tyranny, it is still better than keeping up with them. At least it 
displays disapproval of overt snobbishness. . . . While Whyte finds pres- 
sures for benevolent conformity, he also discovers brotherhood." 78 Daniel 
Bell has argued that the growth in education, among other factors, has 
reduced coafonpity. He comments that "one would be hard put to find 
today the 'conformity' Main Street exacted of Carol Kennicott thirty 
years ago. With rising educational levels, more individuals are able to 
indulge a wider variety of interests," such as serious music, good books, 
high-level FM radio, and the like. 79 

It may be fitting to conclude this chapter with the paradox formu- 
lated by Clyde Kluckhohn, who has suggested: 

Today's kind of "conformity" may actually be a step toward more 
genuine individuality in the United States. "Conformity" is less of a 
personal and psychological problem less tinged wih anxiety and 
guilt ... If someone accepts outwardly the conventions of one's 
group, one may have greater psychic energy to develop and fulfill 
one's private potentialities as a unique person. I have encountered no 

77 Berthoff, of. tit., p. 512. 

78 Robert Wood, Suburbia: Its People and Their Politics (Boston: Houghton 
Mifflin, 1959), p. 15. 

79 Bell, "The Theory of Mass Society," op. cit., p. 82. 

A Changing American Character? 139 

substantial evidence that this "conformity" is thoroughgoing!/ 
"inward." 80 

As status-seeking is the by-product of strong equalitarianism, so conform- 
ity and other-directedness may permit, or even demand, inner autonomy. 
The institution most intimately connected with the value system is, of 
course, religion. And many have suggested that developments within the 
American church establishment have reflected the increase in "other- 
directed" traits. For example, the American's greater propensity to con- 
form is alleged to explain why church membership is at an all-time high 
point; men increasingly join churches because it is the expected thing to 
do. I would question the extent to which change has occurred in Amer- 
ican religious participation and belief. The next chapter, therefore, turns 
to an examination of the evidence supporting the assumptions that such 
major modifications have occurred, and seeks to account for some of the 
persistent traits in American religion by relating them to continuities in 
the essential values of the society. 

80 Clyde Kluckhohn, "Have There Been Discernible Shifts in American 
Values during the Past Generation?" in Elting E. Morison, ed., The Ameri- 
can Style: Essays in Value and Performance, p. 187. This article is the best 
single summary and reference guide to the various empirical studies of changes 
in values in America. 

Religion and 





It is widely assumed that structural changes inherent in industrialization 
and urbanization, with consequent bureaucratization and an increase in 
"other directedness," have resulted in two major changes in American 
religious practice and belief. First it is argued that many more people 
outwardly adhere to formal religion and attend church than ever before; 
and second, that this increase in formal practice does not reflect greater 
religiosity on the contrary, it is suggested that American religion itself 
is now secularized, that it has increasingly adjusted to the sentiments of 
the general society. 

It is variously noted that much of religion has become a matter of 
private ethical convictions; that the churches are active in secular 
affairs; that religious observances have been losing their super- 
natural or other-wordly character. It is said that religion in America 
tends to be religion at a very low temperature. . . .* 

These trends in American religion have been related to the urbanization 
and suburbanization of American society that have taken place in the 
twentieth century. When the different Protestant sects wece geograph- 
ically isolated from each other, and when immigrant Catholics and Jews 

1 Robin Williams, American Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957), 
p. 344. 

Religion and American Values 141 

were segregated in urban slums, the differences in their fundamental 
beliefs were relatively unimportant. Those who professed one set of 
beliefs were insulated against encountering beliefs that contradicted 
them. Now that no group is really isolated, the different professions of 
faith in America exhibit "other-directed" traits by emphasizing what is 
common in their beliefs. 2 Will Herberg points out that the interfaith 
movement, which has been reasonably successful on a national level, 
consists of pruning the transcendental beliefs of all three religions to 
bring about greater harmony among them. 3 

Recent changes in American society may have accentuated these aspects 
of American religion much as they have reinforced "other-directed" traits 
in the American character. However, I would suggest that, as in the case 
of "character" traits discussed in the previous chapter, much of the 
historical record indicates that these aspects have always distinguished 
American religion from religion in other nations. American religion, like 
all other institutions, has made major adjustments in response to changes 
in the size and scope of the nation, but as the institution most intimately 
linked with values it has shown the tenacity exhibited by the value 
system itself. 4 

All-Pervasiveness, a Consistent Characteristic of 
American Religion 

Widespread interest in religion is not a new aspect of American society. 
For almost a century, prominent European visitors who wrote on Ameri- 
can life have been unanimous in remarking on the exceptional religiosity 
of the society. After his visit to America in 1830, Tocqueville com- 
mented: ". . . there is no country in the world where the Christian 
religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in 
America." 5 Martineau in 1834, Trollope in 1860, Bryce in 1883, and 

2 Ibid., pp. 344-345. 

3 Will Herberg, Protestant Catholic Jew: An Essay in American Religious 
Sociology (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1955), Chapter 10. 

4 Talcott Parsons presents essentially the same thesis: c *Looked at by compari- 
son with earlier forms, religion seems to have lost much. But . . . the 
losses are mainly the consequence of processes of structural differentiation 
in the society, which correspond to changes in the character of the religious 
values themselves." Talcott Parsons, Structure and Process in Modern Societies 
(Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press, 1960), p. 320. 

5 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Vintage Books, 
1954), Vol. I, p. 314. 

142 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Weber in 1904, all arrived at similar conclusions. 6 Their accounts agree 
substantially with that of a historian's summary of the impressions of 
pre-Qvil War English travelers who 

pointed to the fact that America, though still largely a primitive 
country, had as many churches as the British Isles, that religious as- 
semblages were being held at one place or another practically all the 
time; that large donations were constantly being made for religious 
purposes. America, they concluded, was basically a very religious 
country. . . . Church services were always crowded on Sundays. . . . 
Church-going, reported Maxwell, was all the rage in New York. . . . 
the high percentage of males in the audience was in sharp contrast 
to their paucity at English services. 7 

Religious practitioners reached similar conclusions. Thus Robert Baird, 
an American Presbyterian minister who spent eight years in Europe 
between 1835 and 1843, wrote on his return home: 

In no other part of the world, perhaps, do the inhabitants attend 
church in a larger proportion than in the United States; certainly no 
part of the Continent of Europe can compare with them in that 
respect. The contrast between the two must strike anyone who, 
after having travelled much in the one, comes to see any of the 
cities of the other. 8 

Philip Schaff, a Swiss theologian who eventually emigrated to America, 
reported in similar terms to German Lutheran bodies. He witnessed much 
greater church attendance in New York and Brooklyn than in Berlin. 
He stated unequivocally: "There are- in America probably more 
awakened souls, and more individual effort and self-sacrifice for religious 
purposes, proportionately, than in any other country, Scotland alone 
perhaps excepted."* 

6 Harriet Martineau, Society in America (New York: Saunders and Oday, 
1837), n, p. 317; Anthony Trollope, North America (New York: Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1951), p. 277; James Bryce, The American Commonwealth (New 
York: Macmillan, 1912), Vol. II, pp. 770, 778; H. H. Gerth and C. Wright 
Mills, ed., From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York: Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1946), pp. 302-303. 

7 Max Berger, The British Traveller m America, 1836-1860 (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1943), pp. 133-134. 

8 Robert Baird, Reli&on in America (New York: Harper & Bros., 1844), p. 

9 Philip Schaff, America: A Sketch of the Political^ Social, and Religious 
Character of the United States of North America (New York: C. Scribner, 
1855), pp. 94, 118. 

Religion and American Values 143 

And a German liberal foe of religion, who found the prevalence of 
religious practice in America distasteful to his agnostic sentiments, testi- 
fied to the same set of facts which he, like others, linked in a very 
materialistic fashion to the effects of the separation of church and state: 

Clergymen in America must . . . defend themselves to the last, like 
other businessmen; they must meet competition and build up a trade, 
and it's their own fault if their income is not large enough. Now is it 
clear why heaven and hell are moved to drive the people to the 
churches, and why attendance is more common here than anywhere 
else in the world? 10 

The statistical data which bear on the question also suggest that the 
increase in church affiliation in recent times is not as significant as has 
been claimed. The earliest quantitative estimates of religious adherence 
in America that I have been able to locate are those reported in The 
American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge which was 
published regularly for some years beginning about 1830. These volumes 
reported detailed statistics for members and adherents of the various 
denominations. The membership data were taken from statements by the 
different church groups while the estimates of the number of adherents 
were derived from various unmentioned publications. In 1831 the total 
number of adherents listed was 12,136,953, in 1832 the total was 12,496,- 
953, and in 1837 it had risen to 14,585,000. Since in 1831 the total 
national population was 13,321,000 and in 1837 it was 15,843,000, n these 
data testify to an almost universal religious adherence by Americans in the 
1830's, comparable to the results obtained by public opinion surveys in 
the past few decades which report that almost every American identifies 
with a given denomination. 

In 1856 Robert Baird published statistical data which also differentiated 

10 Karl T. Griesinger, "Lebende Bilder aus Amerika" (1858), a section of 
which is translated in Oscar Handlin, ed., This Was America (Cambridge, 
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1949), p. 261. 

11 For estimates of religious adherence see William G. Ouseley, Remarks on 
the Statistics and 'Political Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: 
Carey and Lea, 1832), p. 207; The American Almanac and Repository of 
Useful Knowledge for the Year 1832 (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1832), 
p. 156; The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge for the 
Year 1838 (Boston: Charles Bowen, 1837), p. 172. For population statistics 
see ILS. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, 
Colonial Times to 1951 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 
1960), p. 7. 

144 Stability in the Midst of Change 

between members and "those under the influence of the evangelical 
denominations." The total identified with these groups was 17,763,000. 
(The total population of the country at the time was 26,500,000.) These 
figures do not include Catholics, Unitarians, Universalists, Mormons, Jews, 
and various other small, non-evangelical groups. Without describing how 
he obtained his estimate of over 17 million supporters of the evangelical 
groups, Baird states: "Accuracy in such a calculation is hardly to be 
expected, but I have taken the best data I could find, and doubt not that 
the estimate I have made is not much wide of the truth. Including all the 
evangelical 'Friends,' this estimate would fall but little short of eighteen 
million." 12 

While the obvious problems of reliability and validity involved in the 
use of American church membership statistics make it difficult to reach 
any conclusions, the available evidence does suggest that, from some time 
early in American history down to the present, the United States has 
experienced a continuous "boom" in religious adherence and belief. 

These data and observations pose the problem of how to reconcile the 
estimates concerning the general commitment to religion in the first half 
of the nineteenth century with the various estimates reported in the 
Year Book of American Churches which indicate a steep rise in member- 
ship in religious groups, particularly in the twentieth century. 13 There are 
many methodological problems concerning the reliability of any histori- 
cal estimates of church membership, since all of them are presumably 
based on voluntary replies of church officers to questionnaires, and it is 
difficult to find out how the reports for much of the nineteenth century 
were compiled. 14 To some considerable degree, however, the rapid growth 

12 Baird, Religion in America (1856 edition), pp. 530-532. 

13 Benson Y. Landis, ed., Year Book of American Churches (New York: 
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., 1961), p. 247. 

14 The lack of reliability of church membership data, even in recent times, 
has been pointed out in a critique of the statistics assembled by the Year Book 
of American Churches, which indicates considerable growth in church mem- 
bership since 1940. Winthrop Hudson concludes that the supposed boom 
is "largely an illusion," Among the many problems with the statistics is the 
fact that increases often reflect reports from denominations which had never 
reported before, as well as peculiar and suspicious increases, the validity of 
which are never questioned. For example "when the Christ Unity Church 
was listed for the first time in the 1952 Year Book with 682,172 members, 
it alone accounted for more than one-third of the 1,842,515 gain reported 
that year. The following year, the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox 
Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, each with 

Religion and American Values 145 

in reported membership after 1890 is a result of the considerable increase 
in the non-Protestant denominations, whose concept of a church member 
differed greatly from those of the Protestants. These groups, largely 
Catholic and Orthodox, reported as a member every person born in the 
faith, regardless of age or religious status, while most Protestant denomi- 
nations all through the nineteenth century only considered as members 
those who had joined the church as adults, often after fulfilling a rigorous 
set of requirements. 
The discrepancy between the travelers* reports that most Americans 

75,000 members, were listed for the first time. The year after that, five 
bodies listed for the first time contributed 195,804 to the total increase in 
church membership/ 7 Winthrop S. Hudson, "Are Churches Really Booming?" 
The Christian Century, 72 (1955), p. 1494. A critique of the reliability of data 
indicating Catholic growth may be found in B. G. Mulvaney, "Catholic Popu- 
lation Revealed in Catholic Baptisms," American Ecclesiastical Review, 133 
(1955), pp. 183-193. A number of large denominations simply report their 
membership in round figures, such as one million for the Greek Orthodox. 
Others have reported amazing differences from year to year such as "the 
Romanian Orthodox Church, which reported an increase in the 1952 Year 
Book from 390 to 50,000. What these figures mean can best be seen in terms 
of a single year's report. The greatest gain in church membership that has been 
reported was in 1952 3,604,124. For this year, nine bodies with a total mem- 
bership of 335,528 were listed for the first time. The Russian Orthodox 
Church reported an increase of membership from 400,000 to 750,000; the 
Churches of Christ, an increase from 209,615 to 1,500,000; Christ Unity 
Science Church, from 682,172 to 1,112,123. (The following year die Christ 
Unity Science Church reported a farther 469,163 increase, making a total 
gain of 1,581,286 for the three year period.) These items alone account for 
2,405,864 of the 3,604,124 gain in church membership for the year. If one 
subtracts the reported gain in Roman Catholic membership [which is also very 
dubious], all other religious bodies are left with no increase in membership, 
to say nothing of keeping up with the increase in population." A further 
difficulty rests in the extensive geographical mobility in the United States 
which "may have resulted in ... duplications of church membership, with 
many people joining a new church \vithout removing their names from 
the roll of the old church. Some spot checks of membership have tended 
to confirm this conjecture." Hudson, op. cit. 3 p. 1495. 

A detailed look at the data provided by the twelve largest affiliates of 
the National Council of Churches, who together account for 30 million of 
the 35 million affiliated to the Council, indicates that their membership, 
relative to total population, actually "declined" between 1940 and 1954, the 
period dealt with by Hudson. He concludes that far "from offering 'proof 
of a boom in church membership, the statistics . . . show that the boom is 
largely a fiction." Ibid., p. 1496. 

146 Stability in the Midst of Change 

attended church regularly and the relatively small proportion of the 
population who actually belonged to a church may be accounted for by 
the fact that during this period most of those who attended churches 
did not belong to a given denomination. Baird, for example, described 
the situation as of the 1840's in the following terms: 

Not only do persons who have not yet become members, by formal 
admission as such, attend our churches; they form a very large part 
of our congregations. In many cases they constitute two thirds, three 
fourths, or even more; this depending much on the length of the 
period during which the congregation has been organized, and 
hardly ever less than a half, even in the most highly-favoured 
churches. Nor do they attend only; they are cheerful supporters of 
the public worship, and are often found as liberal in contributing of 
their substance for the promotion of good objects, as the members 
of the church themselves, with whom they are intimately connected 
by the ordinary business of life, and by family ties The non-pro- 
fessing hearers of the Word, then, are to be considered as simply 
what we call them, members of the congregation, not of the 
church- . . , 15 

The reasons why men might attend church and support a given 
denomination without becoming a member are not difficult to under- 
stand, given the conditions for membership which existed for most of 
the nineteenth century: 

Certainly by modern standards, church membership was a strenuous 
affair. All evangelical sects required of communicants a personal 
experience of conversion and a consistent life. Two worship services 
and Sunday School on the Sabbath were customary. The Methodists 
invariably kept new converts on "probation" for many months. 
Wesley's followers also attended a weekly class meeting. . . . Lay- 
men of most denominations were responsible for a large amount of 
missionary and benevolent work. . . , 16 

Perhaps the most comprehensive attempt to specify the number of 
"adherents" as distinct from "communicants" of the different Protestant 
denominations is the study by H. K. Carroll, who was in charge of the 

15 Baird, Religion in America, p. 188. 

16 Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform in Mid-Nineteenth 
Century America (New York: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 18; Baird, Religion 
in America, pp. 185-187. 

Religion and American Values 147 

Division of Churches for the 1890 U.S. Census. 17 His efforts led him to 
conclude that in 1890 with a population of 62,622,250, only 5 million 
people were not communicants or adherents. In percentage terms, he 
estimated that 92 per cent of the population in 1890 and 91 per cent in 
1910 were linked to a denomination. These estimates are comparable to 
those suggested by Ouseley for the 1830's and by Baird for the 1840's 
and 1850's, and are similar to the results of public opinion surveys since 
the mid-1930's and to the 1957 U.S. Census Sample Survey of Religious 
Affiliation. And these statistical conclusions, of course, reiterate the almost 
unanimous comments made for close to a century and a half by various 
foreign travelers, who have never ceased to indicate their amazement at 
the rarity of atheists or anti-religious people in America. 18 

17 He secured an estimate of the ratio of communicants to adherents by "a 
comparison between the census returns of the religious populations of various 
communions in Canada [where the Census asks each person his religious 
affiliation] with those which the denominations give themselves of com- 
municants.'* H. K. Carroll, The Religious Forces in the United States. (New 
York: The Christian Literature Co., 1893), p. xxxv. The average of Canadian 
Protestant adherents to communicants was 3.2. To be on the safe side, 
Carroll suggested, however, that this ratio was probably higher than in the 
United States since there were many smaller and obscure denominations 
here, and he concluded that he would be safe in assuming "that there are at 
least 2.5 adherents in the United States to each Protestant communicant." Re- 
lating reports on Protestant membership to this estimate, he derived a total 
estimate of 49,630,000 for the aggregate of Protestant communicants and 
adherents. He also determined the adherents and communicants for Catholic, 
Jewish, and other religious groups. Some similar procedures were employed 
by Dr. Carroll two decades later using 1910 materials. Carroll, op. cit. (1912 
edition), pp. Ixxj-bndi. The ratio of communicants to adherents, however, 
had to be reduced from 2.5 to 2 in view of the large gain in actual church 
membership reported. In seeking to interpret the great gain in church mem- 
berships in the 1910 report, we must note that litde, if any resulted from 
any significant growth in Protestant religious enthusiasm. Rather, as Dr. 
Carroll pointed out, the churches had changed their definition of a member. 
"All Churches receive children into that relation much earlier in life than 
formerly and there are other factors tending to reduce the ratio of adherents 
to communicants, particularly the relaxation of discipline. , . ." Ibid., p. kxxii. 

18 It is undoubtedly significant that the major change in the requirements for 
church membership among the traditionally evangelical denominations oc- 
curred within two or three years after the 1906 Census of Religion. This Census 
(gathered like previous ones through reports by church bodies of their mem- 
bership) followed two decades of massive, largely non-Protestant, immigra- 
tion. The difference between the Protestant and the Catholic-Greek Orthodox- 
Jewish concept of member resulted in a gross underestimate of the actual mi- 

148 Stability in the Midst of Change 

More precise historical data which belie the claim of drastic changes 
in religious practice are provided by the Census reports for the second 
half of the nineteenth century, which present the number of seats 
available in all American churches. These data indicate an increase in 
the ratio of church seats to population of from 62 to 69 per cent, 19 al- 
though the Year Book of American Churches, the most frequently quoted 
source on church affiliation in the United States, estimates a growth in 
membership between 1850 and 1900 of from 15 to 36 per cent of the 
total population. Since the 1850 population included two million slaves 
(almost one-seventh of the population), a group which on the whole 
lacked substantial church accommodations, it seems probable that the 
relatively small increase in available church facilities was added by the 
Negroes. AH during the second half of the nineteenth century, the 
churches kept up with the tremendous population expansion in providing 
accommodations for almost the entire adult population. 

Figures on number of clergymen in America from 1850 to 1950 also 
reveal a striking constancy. In each census year there has been approxi- 
mately one clergyman for every 1,000 persons. In 1850 there were 
1.16 clergymen per 1,000 population; by 1960, the figure had changed to 
1.13. Actually, there has been no effective change in the ratio of clergy 
to total population during the past century, although the proportions 
of others in professional occupations increased sharply, a difference which 
is shown in Table II* 

This lack of an increase in the proportion of ministers adds further 
support to the idea that there has been little change in the strength of 
institutionalized religion, although in itself it is not conclusive evidence. 
Certainly the ratio of parishioners to clergy may have changed, so that 

merical strength of the Protestant groups. While the reasons advanced for the 
changes made by the various denominations in their membership standards 
did not allude to such competitive considerations, there can be little doubt 
that these played a role. The decision to admit children to membership simply 
added numbers. Other modifications in the requirements, however, made it 
much easier for adults to join, as may be seen in die example of the Methodists. 
The 1908 Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church dropped the require- 
ment that a new member must have "met for at least six months in class," and 
the further condition that he be "on trial" for six months "under the care of 
the leaders" for the simple obligation that he be "properly recommended." 
Franklin Hamlin Littell, From State Church to Pluralism (Garden City, N. Y.: 
Doubleday Anchor, 1962), p. 81. 

19 Unfortunately, the Census stopped reporting this datum so that we have 
no comparable figures for this century. 

Religion and American Values 149 

Table II 

Number of Clergymen and Professionals Per 1,000 Population for 
Census Years 1900-1960 
























Sources: Data for Clergy m G. Stigler, Trends in Employment in the Service 
Industries (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1916), p. 108; data for 
professionals calculated from Alba M. Edwards, Comparative Occupational 
Statistics for the United States, 1870 to 1940, Bureau of the Census, 1943, and 
Statistical Abstracts, 1952. 

modern clergymen may serve more members than those of the past 
However, arguing against this possibility is the fact that the proportion 
of ministers has failed to rise with the long-term increasing wealth of the 
American people. That a congregation's ability to pay for religion would 
be a factor is suggested by the sharp drop in the depression decade 
revealed in the above table. 

Some of those who contend that religious adherence in American 
society has reached an all time high in recent times point to evidence, 
derived from public opinion surveys and the 1957 U.S. Sample Survey 
of Religious Affiliation conducted by the Census Bureau, which indicate 
that over 95 per cent of the population state a belief in God and declare 
an identification with some specific religious group. There are, of course, 
no comparable interview data for the nineteenth century except for the 
nearly unanimous reports by foreign travelers that almost everyone they 
spoke to expressed religious beliefs and commitments. It is possible, how- 
ever, to contrast the answers given by undergraduates in American col- 
leges before World War I and in 1952 to questionnaires concerning their 
religious beliefs. 

In a study made in 1913, 927 students in nine colleges of "high rank" 
replied to questions concerning their belief in God. Eighty-seven per 
cent of the men and 93 per cent of the women reported belief. 20 The 

20 James H. Leuba, The Belief m God and Immortality (Chicago: Open Court 
Publishing Co., 1921), pp. 184-202. 

150 Stability in the Midst of Change 

same author received replies from 90 per cent of the students in "one 
college of high rank," of whom 70 per cent believed in immortality and 
after-life. 21 Four decades later, in 1952, a group of Cornell sociologists 
administered questionnaires to 4,585 students selected through statistical 
sampling procedures to be representative of male undergraduates at eleven 
colleges and universities. Twenty-four per cent of the men were atheists 
or agnostics. 22 Comparing the findings of these two studies suggests that 
at least for college students the supposed religious "revival" of the 1950's 
still has considerable distance to go before belief reaches a point compar- 
able to that of 1913. 23 

Such statistical data as we have examined all argue against the thesis 
that religious practice in America in the mid-twentieth century is at its 
high point. Rather, one concludes from these data that, although there 
have been ebbs and flows in enthusiasm, basic long-term changes in formal 
religious affiliation and practice have not occurred, and the current high 
level of religious belief and observance existed in the past as well. As the 
foreign travelers noted in their books, Americans have been and continue 
to be a highly religious people. In fact, the one empirical generalization 
which does seem justified about American religion is that from the early 
nineteenth century down to the present, the United States has been 
among the most religious countries in the Christian world. Considerably 
lower proportions of religious responses (belief in God) are reported 
by pollsters for European countries than for the United States. 24 With 
respect to attendance, it is misleading to compare national rates because 
of the varying proportions of Catholics and Protestants (who manifest 
divergent church-going patterns) within populations. But American 
Protestants attend church more frequently than Protestants in Sweden, 
Denmark, Czechoslovakia (before the Communist coup), and Great 
Britain. 25 

21 Ibid., pp. 213-216. 

22 Philip E, Jacob, Changing Values in College (New York: Harper & Bros., 
1957), p. 108. Universities differed: Almost one-third (32 per cent) of the 
Harvard College students do not believe in God as compared with 13 per cent 
of those at die University of Texas. 

23 Actually, such a conclusion that there is less belief today than four decades 
ago would not be warranted since the sampling methods and questions asked 
differed greatly. 

24 Leo Rosten, A Guide to the Religions of America (New York: Simon & 
Schuster, 1955), p. 247. 

25 Hadley Cantril, Public Opinion 1935-1946 (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton 
University Press, 1951 ), p. <599. 

Religion and American Values 151 

Secularly, a Persistent Trait of American Religion 

From the available evidence it is difficult to discern actual trends with 
respect to the secularization of religion* There does appear to have been 
a historic trend toward secularization but it does not seem to be as great 
as many have argued. The supporters of the thesis of increased seculari- 
zation would seem to minimize two somewhat contradictory but co- 
existent tendencies. First, they ignore the possibility that the supposedly 
modern, secularized religion may have characterized much of American 
behavior in previous periods. Second, they are inattentive to the fact that, 
now as in the past, a considerable number of Americans have a propensity 
to follow evangelical religions and middle-class intellectuals tend to 
compare nineteenth century evangelical movements which they know 
from historical records with contemporary middle- and upper-class 
liberal religion, the form they are personally acquainted with. They 
forget that the religion of the better educated and more privileged has 
always tended to be more secularly oriented than that of the lower 

In the past three decades, as in the early nineteenth century, the 
more orthodox and fundamentalist denominations, e.g., the Southern 
Baptists, the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, the Catholic 
Church, and the numerous small Pentecostal and fundamentalist sects, 
have had more success in recruiting members than the "established" 
denominations which belong to the National Council of Churches much 
as in the nineteenth century the then revivalist Methodists and Baptists 
had much greater success than the older higher status and more secularized 
denominations such as the Fpisrnpfl.Hfl.Tis, Congregationalists, and Uni- 

There is no question that various denominations have become more 
secularized and less evangelical over time. But this change within specific 
denominations such as the Presbyterians and the Methodists in large part 
reflects the fact that their constituency has changed, from "out" groups 
to "in" groups. Concentrating on the history of a given Protestant 
denomination necessarily results in the misleading conclusion that there 
has been a sharp change from ascetic fervor to a more secularized reli- 
gious liberalism. 

American religious denominations, like ethnic groups, have experienced 
collective upward mobility. In the early years of the Republic, the 

26 Hudson, "Are Churches Really Booming?" op. tit., pp. 1495-1496. 

152 Stability m the Midst of Change 

Presbyterians were among the more depressed strata economically and 
socially, and their religious and political behavior reflected this fact. 27 
They, however, soon became identified with the Congregationalists, the 
Quakers, the Unitarians, and the Episcopalians, as the churches of the 
more well-to-do and the urban middle classes. The Methodists and 
Baptists became the predominant religions of the constantly expanding 
frontier population and the urban working classes. With economic and 
population growth, the Methodists, too, gained proportionally in middle- 
class members, and the ministry, which had been largely uneducated, 
gradually became a seminary or university trained one, a phenomenon 
which tended to reduce their evangelical fervor and their appeal to the 
"displaced" strata. New sects arose to satisfy the need for religious 
enthusiasm. The upward mobility of the members of the older Protes- 
tant denominations was also facilitated by immigration from Europe, 
largely of Catholic and Lutheran background, followed by increasing 
numbers of Jews and adherents of the Greek Orthodox creed. Most 
recently, southern Negroes have moved into the cities. Since most of 
these immigrants and Negroes have occupied the lowest positions in the 
class structure, many white Protestant groups, particularly the Methodists 
who had been the predominant evangelical sect for much of the nine- 
teenth century, necessarily improved their location on the status kdder. 
Thus, while the denominational affiliations of urban middle-class Ameri- 
cans may have changed from a statistical point of view, the pattern of 
American religion has remained fairly constant. Negro religious behavior 
resembles that of the nineteenth century lower status migrant white 
population. The Catholics have taken on the coloration of a funda- 
mentalist orthodox religion comparable in tone and style, if not in 
theology, to the nineteenth-century evangelical Protestant sects. Recently, 
a leading French Dominican student of the American Church has com- 
plained that American Catholics resemble American Baptists more than 
they do Mexican or French Catholics. He comments that "one often has 
the impression that American Catholics are more Puritan than anybody 
else and that they are close to setting themselves up as the champions 
of Puritanism." 28 
The historic American pattern of a more secularized higher status 

27 Manning Dauer, The Adams Federalists (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 
1953), pp. 28-29. 

2S R. L. Bruckberger, "The American Catholics as a Minority," in Thomas T. 
McAvoy, ed., Roman Catholicism and the American Way of Life (Notre 
Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1960), pp. 45-47. 

Religion and American Values 153 

religion has been well described by Baltzell, who points out that, from the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, men often turned to the Episcopal 
Church as they became well-to-do. This was true for Presbyterian cotton 
planters in the South, for the upper-class Quakers of Philadelphia, and 
even for many old-family New England Unitarians and Congrega- 
tionalists. 29 The secular motivations underlying such conversions were 
not a secret to their contemporaries. Foreign travelers also were well 
aware of the relationship between status-seeking and church member- 
ship. 30 

Many of the foreign observers also confessed their surprise to find that 
the system of competing denominations in the United States did not mean 
that the different groups rejected each other for adhering to "false 
creeds." An Italian Jesuit, Giovanni Grassi, who served for five years, 
1812 to 1817, as President of Georgetown College before returning to 
Rome, commented in disturbed tones on these "other-directed" religious 

Every sect there is held as good, every road as correct, and every 
error as the insignificant weakness of poor mortals. . . . 

Although how can one speak of sects? Those who describe them- 
selves as members of one or another of the sects do not thereby 
profess an abiding adherence to the doctrines of the founders of the 
sect. . . . Thus the Anglicans of today no longer take much account 
of their thirty-nine articles, nor the Lutherans of the Confession of 
Augsburg, nor the Presbyterians of the teachings of Calvin or of 
Knox. . . . 

Among the peculiarities of America, not the most extreme is that 
of finding persons who live together for several years without know- 
ing each other's religion. And many, when asked, do not answer, 
"I believe," but simply, "I was brought up in such a persuasion." 31 

Timothy Smith concludes from his detailed examination of the writ- 
ings of many nineteenth-century ministerial foreign travelers that visit- 

29 E. Digby Baltzell, Philadelphia Gentlemen. The Making of a National Upper 
Class (Glencoe, EL: The Free Press, 1958), pp. 225-233. See also Dixon 
Wecter, The Saga of American Society (New York: Scribner's 1937), pp. 

30 SchaflF, America, pp. 154-155. See also Thomas C. Grattan, Civilized America 
(London: Bradbury and Evans, 1895), VoL I, pp. 60-61. 

31 Giovanni Grassi, Notbde varie sullo stato presente della republica degli 
Stati Uniti del? America (1819), section translated in Oscar Handlin, ed., 
This Was America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1949), pp. 

154 Stability in the Midst of Change 

ing "Evangelicals were especially heartened to discover that the elimina- 
tion of legal privilege [separation of church and state in America] 
seemed to lessen sectarian rivalry." 32 He cites one English visitor in the 
1830's who "noted with pleasure the numerous exchanges of pulpits, 
union prayer meetings and joint efforts in Bible Society, Sunday school, 
and mission 'work. She decided that the sectarian spirit of Europe's 
churches arise not so much from 'conscientious scruples and differences 
of opinion on government or doctrine' as from the fact that some had 
endowments and some did not." 33 A leading French Calvinist pastor 
who visited the United States two decades later confessed his surprise 
at this phenomenon of mutual esteem among competing sects: 

We thought, until our visit to the United States, that the multiplicity 
of sects there, must, of necessity, present an obstacle to the progress 
of the spirit of brotherly love. We do not yet think that a diversity 
of communions is an efficacious means of developing among Chris- 
tians the principle of charity; but we are glad to acknowledge that 
our American brethren have combatted very effectually the at- 
tendant dangers. So far as we have been able to judge, there exists 
much harmony and good feeling, between all the evangelical de- 
nominations. The pastors and members of the various religious com- 
munities even among those most widely differing in church polity, 
speak mutually of each 1 other with much kindness and esteem. 34 

Tocqueville's companion on his visit to America, Gustave de Beau- 
mont, was also struck by this behavior and confessed his puzzlement as to 
how Americans could be fervent in their particular belief yet approve 
of exchange of pulpits among ministers of different Protestant denomi- 

As a matter of fact, nothing is commoner in the United States than 
this indifference toward the nature of religions, which doesn't 
however eliminate the religious fervour of each for the cult he has 
chosen. Actually, this extreme tolerance on the one hand towards 
religions in general on the other this considerable zeal of each 
individual for his own religion, is a phenomenon I can't yet explain 

32 Smith, Revivalism and Social 'Reform in Mid-Nineteenth Century America, 
p. 37. 

33 Ibid., p. 19. (Emphasis mine.) 

34 J. H. Grand Pierre, A Parisian Pastor's Glance at America (Boston: Gould 
and Lincoln, 1854), pp. 63-64. 

Religion and American Values 155 

to myself. I would gladly know how a lively and sincere faith can 
get on with such a perfect toleration; how one can have equal 
respect for religions whose dogmas differ. . . , 35 

And Beaumont asked the same question about American religion in the 
1830's that many have raised in recent years: "Would it not be from 
their outward show of religion that there is more breadth than depth in 
it?" SQ 

Tocqueville himself commented that in no other country is Christian- 
ity "clothed with fewer forms, figures, and observances than in the 
United States, or where it presents more distinct, simple and general 
notions to the mind. Although the Christians of America are divided into 
a multitude of sects, they look upon their religion in the same light." 37 
And in his private notes Tocqueville reported: 

Go into the churches (I mean the Protestant ones), you will hear 
morality preached, of dogma not a word. Nothing which can at all 
shock the neighbour; nothing which can arouse the idea of dis- 
sent. . . . [Ministers preach to other denominations.] But, said I, 
how do these men and children, who are communicants of one sect, 
like hearing the minister of another? The infallible response is this: 
The different preachers, treating only the common ground of 
morality, cannot do each other any harm. 3g 

His English contemporary, Harriet Martineau, who stated that al- 
most everyone professed some form of Christian belief, perceptively 
added that people are not supposed to feel intensely about a particular 

One circumstance struck me throughout the country. Almost as 
often as the conversation between myself and any other person on 
religious subjects became intimate and earnest, I was met by the sup- 
position that I was a convert. It was the same in other instances: 
wherever there was a strong interest in the Christian religion, con- 
version to a particular profession of it was confidentially supposed. 
This fact speaks volumes. 39 

35 Quoted in George W. Pierson, Tocqueville in America (Garden City, N.Y.: 
Doubleday Anchor, 1959), p. 70. 

36 Loc. cit. (Emphasis mine.) 

37 Tocqueville, Democracy in America, VoL n, p. 28. 

38 Pierson, Toqueville in America, p. 100. 

39 Martineau, Society in America, VoL II, p. 336. 

156 Stability in the Midst of Change 

In 1860 Anthony Trollope was struck by the fact that "the question 
of a man's religion is regarded in a free and easy way." He notes that 
fathers believe "that a young lad should go somewhere on a Sunday; 
but a sermon is a sermon. . . . Everybody is bound to have a religion, 
but it does not much matter what it is." 40 And in 1900, the German 
sociologist Max Weber was also impressed, during his visit, with the 
seeming secularization of religion and acceptance of religious diversity. 
He reported: "In the main, the congregations refused entirely to listen 
to the preaching of 'dogma' and to confessional distinctions. 'Ethics' 
alone could be offered. . . . Today the kind of denomination [to which 
one belongs] is rather irrelevant. It does not matter whether one be a 
Freemason, Christian Scientist, Adventist, Quaker, or what not." 41 

The foremost modern British scholar of America concludes his dis- 
cussion of late nineteenth-century religious life: 

Religion became a matter of conduct, of good deeds, of works with 
only a vague background of faith. It became highly functional, 
highly pragmatic; it became a guarantee of success, moral and 
material. . . . Theological schools turned from theology to a form 
of anthropology & moralistic and optimistic form, but anthropology 
all the same. That 'the proper study of mankind is man' was the 
evasion by which many American divines escaped the necessity for 
thought about God. 42 

Reports that American religion is much more secular than that found 
in other nations have been just as consistent as reports that it has relatively 

40 Trollope, North America, p. 278. 

41 Gerth and Mills, eds., From Max Weber, p. 307. 

42 Denis W. Brogan, The American Character (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 
1944), p. 102. Stow Persons states that "by the middle of the nineteenth cen- 
tury ... the denominational pattern that had matured . . . conformed closely 
to the contours of American social life. Under no other ecclesiastical system 
could the expressions of the religious spirit have been expected to reflect so 
immediately the character and outlook of the parishioners. . . . the middle 
classes generally preferred a more sedate and formal worship in which tra- 
ditional dogmas were wedded to the individualistic ethic of the Gospel of 
Wealth. Urban professionals and intellectuals who were sensitive to currents 
of opinion in the secular world were frequently drawn into that new phenom- 
enon, the big city parish, centered on the resonant personality of a pulpit 
orator who blended the elements of an innocuous theology with discussion of 
current interests to produce a romantic individualism." "Religion and Modern- 
ity, 1865-1914," in J. W. Smith and L. Jamison, eds, The Shaping of American 
Religion (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1961), pp. 370-372. 

Religion and American Values 157 

more adherents. Secularity has long been cited as a persistent trait of 
American religion and cannot simply be attributed to an increase in 
socially motivated church-going in the past few decades. 

However, seculaiity is not the only notable characteristic of American 
religion throughout its history. New sects have developed more readily 
here than anywhere else in the world. 48 For the most part, these are 
drawn from economically and socially depressed strata, and their 
theology reflects this fact, such as in the belief that wealth or ostentation 
is sinful or corrupting. 44 During the last Great Depression, when efforts 
to form significant protest political parties failed totally, the religious 
sectarians grew, while other religions declined or showed no change. 45 

Since all of these characteristics have made American religion unique 
throughout its history, they must be attributed to those features of 
American society that have consistently distinguished it from other 
cultures, rather than to recent changes. In each age, men have seen in the 
almost total allegiance to religion by Americans a further evidence of 
the conformist propensity of democratic man. Analysts, in the past as 
well as the present, 46 have also attributed the secular quality of American 

43 There are more than 200 Protestant denominations in the United States. 
"Democracy has not only permitted the continuance of all the divisions of 
Protestantism; it has also allowed, if not encouraged, the growth of new 
groups." H. Richard Niebuhr, "The Protestant Movement and Democracy in 
the United States," in J. W. Smith and L. Jamison, eds., The Shaping of 
American Religion, pp. 52-53. See pp. 25-26 for a classification of Protestant 
denominations in the United States based on the times of their origins. 

44 E. T. Clark, The Small Sects in America (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 
1949), p. 17. Stow Persons, in discussing Clark's account of the Millerite 
movement and its reaction to the anticipated day of the Second Coining, 
interestingly concludes that millenialism "cannot be explained as a product of 
poverty or persecution [but rather] represented a stubborn refusal to accept 
a modernist version of the historical process in which divine immanence was 
reconciled with events naturalistically conceived." He finds evidence of diffuse 
anxiety, rather than misery or tragedy, in Adventist literature. Stow Persons, 
"Religion and Modernity, 1865-1914," op. tit., pp. 399-400. 

45 William ~\y. Sweet, The American Churches (New York: Abingdon-Cokes- 
bury, 1947), p. 73; A. T. Boisen, Religion m Crisis and Custom (New York: 
Harper & Bros., 1955), pp. 71-75; also Michael Argyle, Religious Behavior 
(Glencoe, HL: The Free Press, 1958), pp. 138-140. 

46 H. Richard Niebuhr, indulging in a kind of animistic thinking, attributes 
"other-directedness" to Protestant groups themselves. "Seeking to survive, 
thrown into competition for attention, membership, and economic support, 
not only with each other but with secular enterprises claiming the same re- 
sources, they appear to have adjusted themselves all too well to the wishes of 
the people. ... If Protestantism in America has . . . accepted . . . the dogmas 

158 Stability in the Midst of Change 

religion to its relationship with democracy. Tocqueville felt that the 
emphasis upon morality, rather than transcendental beliefs, in American 
religion, was a result of the numerous sects and religions being given 
equal status before the law and in the eyes of men. He observed: 

[The sects] all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the 
Creator, but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due 
from man to man. Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar 
manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of 
God. . . . Society has no future life to hope for or to fear; and 
provided the citizens profess a religion, the peculiar tenets of that 
religion are of litde importance to its interests. 47 

In this respect, he does not differ too greatly from Herberg who says: 

Just as the three great religions are the basic subdivisions of the 
American people, so are the three great communions felt to be 
recognized expressions of the spiritual aspect of the American Way 
of Life. This underlying unity not only supplies limits within which 
their conflicts and tensions may operate and beyond which they can- 
not go it also supplies the common content of the three com- 
munities. 48 

Each of these analyses implies that both the secular and the all-pervasive 
character of American religion is a result of its being viewed as part of 
the "American Way of Life." Tocqueville found that "the whole nation," 
"every rank of society," felt that religion was indispensable to the main- 
tenance of republican institutions. And he believed that this was why, on 
the one hand, even those who did not "profess the doctrines of Christian- 
ity from sincere belief in them" did so hypocritically "because they 
fear[ed] to be suspected of unbelief; and why, on the other hand, 
Christian morality rather than transcendental beliefs stood out in Ameri- 
can religious attitudes. 49 

American Protestantism has concentrated on the moral rather than the 
contemplative, mystical, or communal and traditional elements of religion 
partially because of its Puritan roots. The contemplative and the mys- 

of democratic faith, then indeed it has lost its independence, then it no longer 
challenges the social faith but is a passive representative of the culture." "The 
Protestant Movement and Democracy . . . ," op. cit., pp. 57, 67. 

47 Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. I, p. 314. 

48 Herberg, Protestant Catholic Jew, p. 247. 

49 Tocqueville, Democracy m America, Vol. I, pp. 315-316. 

Religion and American Values 159 

tical have not played a significant role in Protestantism in general, and 
in addition "the intellectual, theological element, though prominent in 
Puritan Christianity came with the growth of the churches of the com- 
mon man and the triumph of pietism to be neglected in American 

In the main drift of religion in America the theological and liturgical 
and mystical and contemplative move into the background; the 
hierarchical and communal give place to the individualistic, the 
traditional to the immediate, the authoritative to the freely decided, 
the appeal to the mind and the aesthetic sense to the appeal to the 
will, the awareness of the ultimate to the concern with the practical 
life. The penumbra of beyondness, absoluteness, and mystery fades 
away, and leaves as the core of what Americans think religion to 
be the moral. 50 

Voluntarism, the Source of Religious Strength 

In seeking to explain the special character of American religion many 
of the foreign visitors singled out the effect of the separation of church 
and state, which resulted in American churches being voluntary organi- 
zations in which congregational self-government was the predominant 
form of church government. More specifically, the special quality of 
American religion has been linked to three elements in the American 
past: first, New England Puritanism infused certain ascetic values into 
the very concept of Protestantism the Puritans' "Protestant ethic" lay 
close to the heart of most denominations, regardless of doctrinal dif- 
ferences; second, ideological emphases and institutional changes which 
flowed from the American Revolution led to forms of church organiza- 
tion analogous to popularly based institutions; and third, the fact that all 
sections of the United States were formed out of an unsettled frontier 
without any traditional class structure or significant aid or control from 
a central government meant that religious institutions had to be created 
almost completely from the resources of the local population, and hence 
closely reflected their specific religious needs and their secular values. 

It is difGcult to separate out the contributions of each of these, and 
of other factors. As in all complex structures, the various elements tend 
to interact continually. Thus, Puritanism has been credited with sup- 

50 William Lee Miller, "American Religion and American Political Attitudes," 
in J. W. Smith and L. Jamison, eds., The Shaping of American Religion 
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1961), p. 94. 

160 Stability in the Midst of Change 

plying much of the motivation behind the Revolution. 51 Congregationalist 
pastors overwhelmingly backed the Revolution, while the hierarchically 
organized Episcopalians tended to be Tories. Congregationalism, with its 
stress on self-government within the church, contributed to secular self- 
government in the form of the New England town meeting. Comparative 
studies of frontier settlement in Canada, Latin America, and Australia 
have suggested that part of the democratic aspects of American frontier 
settlement reflected the American ethos and political system, not simply 
the needs of any new frontier society. In Canada, as will be detailed in 
Chapter 7, central authorities played a much greater role in settling and 
governing the frontier than was true in the United States. And in ex- 
amining developments in American religion, it seems obvious that the 
ideology which flowed from the Revolution and the subsequent political 
triumph of the "left" in the early decades of the Republic led to the 
decisive decision in favor of "disestablishment.'* The withdrawal of 
government support from religion made American Protestantism unique 
in the Christian world. The United States became the first nation in 
which religious groups were viewed as purely voluntary associations. 
To exist, American churches had to compete in the marketplace for 
support. And conversely, membership in a given religious denomination 
was a voluntary act. 

This emphasis on voluntary associations which struck Tocqueville and 
other foreign travelers as one of the distinctive American traits, and which 
was also supportive of political democracy, has been traced by some as 
essentially derivative from 'Voluntary religion." Sidney Mead points out 
that even the Episcopalians became consciously aware of the fact that with 
the end of the Revolution they could now exist only as "voluntary as- 
sociations" (a term explicitly used in such an analysis by an Episcopalian 
minister). This meant they had to involve the laity in church government, 
and that a priest would have only as much influence as there was good 
opinion of his ability. As Mead says, "the acceptance of religious freedom 
and separation" came to mean that ministers had only "persuasive or 
political power." 52 

51 The best treatment of the relationship of religion to the background of the 
Revolution is Carl Bridenbaugh, Mitre and Sceptre (New York: Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1962. 

52 Sidney E. Mead, "The Rise of the Evangelical Conception of the Ministry 
in America (1607-1850)," in H. Richard Niebuhr and Daniel D. Williams, 
eds., The Ministry m Historical Perspectives (New York: Harper & Bros., 
1956), pp. 214-215. An excellent, detailed analysis of the interrelationship 
between voluntary organizations and religious practice in the early United 
States may be found in Baird, Religion m America. 

Religion and American Values 161 

The end of religious Establishment and the growth of the sects meant 
that a new structure of moral authority had to be created to replace the 
once dominant link between Church and State. In New England, many 
Congregationalist ministers and laymen consciously recognized that they 
had to establish voluntary organizations to safeguard morality in a demo- 
cratic society that deemphasized the links between Church and Govern- 
ment. 53 The early organization of local and national associations for 
domestic missionary work, for the distribution of Bibles, for temperance, 
for opposition to slavery, and for peace, was invariably undertaken by 
well-to-do religious people, and by ministers adhering to the historic New 
England denominations, who felt these were the only ways they could 
preserve and extend a moral society. Eventually a host of voluntary 
groups developed around the voluntary churches. 

The separation of Church and State, and other causes, have given 
rise to a new species of social organization, before unknown in 
history. . . . Then opened on the American world the new era of 
the Religious and Benevolent Society system, and summoned into the 
field an immense body of superior and highly-cultivated talent. . . . 
As to the right or wrong of these institutions, or as to whether 
they are good or bad, is not, in this place, a subject of inquiry; but 
simply the fact of their social importance, and their power. . . . And 
it happens, that these voluntary associations are so numerous, so 
great, so active and influential, that, as a whole, they now constitute 
the great school of public education, in the formation of those 
practical opinions, religious, social, and political, which lead the 
public mind and govern the country. . . . 5 * 

American Protestantism, although Calvinist in origin, fairly early in 
its history became Arminian. A large majority of the Calvinist denomina- 
tions, as well as most of the non-Calvinist ones, came to accept the 
Arminian "doctrines of free will, free grace, and unlimited hope for the 
conversion of all men." 55 To maintain themselves after disestablishment, 
practically all the Protestant groups had become proselytizing churches. 
And the Calvinist belief in predestination "could hardly survive amidst 

63 See Clifford S. Griffin, Their Brothers' Keepers (New Brunswick, N.J.: 
Rutgers University Press, 1960), pp. 23-43, for a description of the organiza- 
tion of these societies. 

54 An American Gentleman (Calvin Colton), A Voice from America to Eng- 
land (London: Henry Colbuno, 1839), pp. 87-S8, 97. 

55 Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform in Mid-Nineteenth Century America, 
pp. 88-89. 

162 Stability in the Midst of Change 

the evangelists' earnest entreaties to 'come to Jesus,' " 8e American Prot- 
estantism, with its emphasis on the personal achievement of grace, re- 
inforced the stress on personal achievement which was dominant in the 
secular value system. Both sets of values stressed individual responsibility, 
both rejected hereditary status. The two dominant denominations, the 
Methodists and the Baptists, which contained most Protestants, stressed 
religious doctrines that reinforced "anti-aristocratic tendencies." 57 Here 
again it is possible to suggest an interacting complex. An early nineteenth- 
century analyst of American religion argued that the reason that these 
denominations outgrew others was that the "disciplinary habits, the politi- 
cal opinions, and ideological tenets, both of the Baptists and Wesleyans, 
are more congenial to American democracy, than those of the better 
educated and more accomplished religious sects. . . . Hence the political 
opinions of America having been before determined those forms of 
religion best adapted to harmonize with them, were likely to prevail 
most. . . ." 5S To understand the character and strength of religion in 
America, it is therefore important to see its fundamental links with the 
prevalent secular values. 

The fact of disestablishment, that is, the absence of a state church, 
served also to enhance the application of religious morality to politics. 
The existence of a state Church in Europe meant that "even 'sin,' in 
European culture had been institutionalized." 

There, an actual place had been made for it in life's crucial experi- 
ence. It had been classified from time out of mind and given 
specific names; the reality of "lust," "avarice," and "oppression" had 
given rise to the most intricate of social arrangements, not for 
eliminating them, but for softening their impact and limiting their 
scope for protecting the weak and defining the responsibilities of 
the strong. ... All this may well have been in [Henry] James's mind 
when he exclaimed of America: "no church" 

What, then, might be expected to happen if sin should suddenly 
become apparent, in a nation whose every individual was, at least 
symbolically, expected to stand on his own two feet? The reaction 
was altogether destructive. The sense of outrage was personal, the 
sense of personal guilt was crushing. The gentle American of mild 
vices was transformed into the bloody avenger. 59 

56 Ibid., p. 89. 

57 Ibid., pp. 24-25. 

58 Calvin Colton, A Voice from America to England, pp. 69-70. Colton him- 
self was an Episcopalian conservative and disliked these tendencies. 

59 Stanley F.lkins, Slavery (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959), p. 35. 

Religion and American Values 163 

The need to assuage the sense of personal responsibility has meant 
that Americans have been particularly wont to support movements for 
the elimination of evil by violent means if necessary. The movements for 
temperance and prohibition, for the abolition of slavery, for resistance to 
the growth of Catholicism, and most recently for the elimination of 
Communists, have all drawn their vigor from the stress developed within 
American society on personal responsibility for the struggle against 
evil 60 

Certainly there has been an interplay between religious and democratic 
values from the beginning of the nation's history. The gradual identifi- 
cation of Enlightenment ideals with national identity in turn affected the 
content of our religious values. J. Franklin Jameson explains the amazingly 
rapid decline of Calvinist doctrine in America after the Revolution, 
and its replacement by Arminian religious beliefs, not only as a re- 
flection of the doctrinal need of evangelical revivalistic religion, but 
also by the assumption that, "in a period when the special privileges 
of individuals were being called into question or being destroyed, there 
would naturally be less favor for that form of theology which was 
dominated by the doctrine of the especial election of a part of man- 
kind, a growing favor for forms which seemed more distinctly to be 
based upon the idea of the natural equality of all men." 61 

The Arminian emphasis on the personal attainment of grace, perhaps 
even more than the Calvinist stress on the existence of an "elect," served 
as a religious parallel to the secular emphasis on equality of opportunity 
and achievement. This parallelism, and even mutual reinforcement, was 
noted by many nineteenth-century foreign visitors. Unlike the situation 
in many European countries, in which economic materialism was viewed 
by the social and religious establishments that is, the traditional aristoc- 
racy and the church as conducive to uncouth behavior and immorality, 
in the United States hard work and economic ambition have been perceived 
as the proper activity of a devout man. Schaff commented that the 
"acquisition of riches is to them [the Americans] only a help toward 
higher spiritual and moral ends." 62 The considerable sums, as well as 

60 1 have discussed these aspects of American political life in another publica- 
tion dealing with '^Religion and Politics in America," in Robert Lee, ed., 
Religion and Social Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, forth- 

61 J. Franklin Jameson, The American Revolimon Considered as a Social 
Movement (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1926), p. 157. 

62 Schaff, America, p. 259. 

164 Stability in the Midst of Change 

time, contributed to philanthropic works, which reached heights un- 
dreamed of in Europe, have also been perceived as part of the inter- 
relationship between religious and secular activities. The emphasis on 
"voluntarism" in both areas has clearly been mutually reinforcing. For 
much of the nineteenth century many voluntary activities, such as those 
dealing with charity, education, and moral and social reform were closely 
linked to religious concerns. Men were expected to be righteous, hard- 
working, and ambitious. Righteousness was to be rewarded both in the 
present and the hereafter, and the succesful had an obligation to engage 
in good works and to share the bounty they had attained. 

It is important to stress also that the strong commitment to a voluntaris- 
tic denominational Protestantism reinforced the support for minority 
rights even in the religious sphere itself. Although Sunday Blue Laws 
continued for many decades after the Revolution, the rights of the 
irreligious found considerable backing, as reflected in the insistence 
already noted by the Democrats that the mails be delivered on Sundays. 
In 1830 twenty years after the passage of the Sunday mails bill a 
Senate committee report, authored by a future Vice-President and en- 
dorsed by a majority of that House, stated explicitly that in the United 
States religion and irreligion had equal rights, and that laws proclaiming 
that the government should not provide services on Sunday would work 
an injustice to irreligious people or non-Christians, and would constitute 
a special favor for Christians as a group. The report, written by a 
deeply religious active Baptist, stated these principles in unequivocal 

The Constitution regards the conscience of the Jew as sacred as 
that of the Christian, and gives no more authority to adopt a meas- 
ure affecting the conscience of a solitary individual than that of a 
whole community, ... If Congress shall declare the first day of the 
week holy, it will not satisfy the Jew nor the Sabbatarian. It will 
dissatisfy both and, consequently convert neither. ... It must be 
recollected that, in the earliest settlement of this country, the spirit 
of persecution, which drove the pilgrims from their native homes, 
was brought with them to their new habitations; and that some 
Christians were scourged and others put to death for no other crime 
than dissenting from the dogmas of their rulers. 

... If a solemn act of legislation shall in one point define the God 
or point out to the citizen one religious duty, it may with equal 
propriety define every part of divine revelation and enforce every 

Religion and American Values 165 

religious obligation, even to the forms and ceremonies of worship; 
the endowment of the church, and the support of the clergy. 

. , . It is the duty of this government to affirm to all to the Jew 
or Gentile, Pagan, or Christian the protection and advantages 
of our benignant institutions on Sunday, as well as every day of the 
week. 63 

Before the Civil War, successful struggles, often led by deeply believing 
Protestants, were waged in many areas to eliminate any relationship 
between state supported education and religion. By so doing, these 
Protestants acknowledged the rights of all, even of the completely 
irreligious. In 1853, in defending a ruling that prayers "could not be 
required as a part of the school exercises" in New York state, a devout 
State Superintendent of Schools wrote as follows: 

[T]he position was early, distinctly, and almost universally taken 
by our statesmen, legislators, and prominent friends of education 
men of the warmest religious zeal and belonging to every sect 
that religious education must be banished from the common school 
and consigned to the -family and church. . . . Accordingly, the in- 
struction in our schools has been limited to that ordinarily included 
under the head of intellectual culture, and to the propagation of 
those principles of morality in which all sects, and good men belong- 
ing to no sect, can equally agree 

Not only have the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, the Baptist and 
the Methodist met on common and neutral ground in the school 
room, but with them the Unitarian, the Universalist, the Quaker 
and even the denier of all creeds.** 

The fact that public officials could openly advocate that the federal 
and state governments must consider the rights of non-believers indicates 
the extent to which many believing Protestants of the first half century 
of the United States were able to tolerate religious variety. Only Catholi- 
cism, viewed by many American Protestants not as a different set of 
religious beliefs but as an alien conspiracy seeking to undermine the 
American Way of Life, was outside the pale. 

63 Richard Mentor Johnson, "Sunday Observance and the Mail," reprinted in 
George E. Probst, ed., The Happy Republic (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 
1962), pp. 250-254. (Emphasis in original.) 

64 Cited in R. Freeman Butts, The American Tradition in Religion cmd Educa~ 
tion (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1950), pp. 136-137. (Emphases are Butts's.) 

166 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Thus we may say, once again, that Tocqueville and other early foreign 
travelers "foresaw" trends in American religious institutions, just as they 
"foresaw" trends in the American character. These trends have become 
accentuated as the nation's values have adjusted to the vast changes that 
have taken place in the fabric of American society. The identification 
which Tocqueville observed between democratic ideals and an affirmation 
of religion seems even greater today. 65 

While the secular and all-pervasive character of American religion 
may stem from the intertwining of democratic and religious values, it 
is easier to show how the propensity to form sects is a product of the 
way democracy affected the structural position of religion in America. 
Perhaps this can best be seen by comparing the growth of religion in 
Canada and the United States. Religious sects have tended to develop, in 
both Canada and the United States, where rapid social change, the 
heavy shift of population to the frontier or the growing cities, and the 
consequent social mobility, have torn individuals from their traditional 
ties. However, the fact that religion is less explicitly separated from the 
"national community" in Canada has meant that sects have been less able 
to survive there than in the United States. In Canada: 

Political pressures have forced the community to come to the sup- 
port of organized religion and such support has placed a definite 
limitation upon sectarian activity. With the collective weight of 
the community brought to bear upon them, the sects have been 
forced either to retreat behind a wall of isolation or build them- 
selves into an integral part of the community, or else to seek de- 
nominational supports by aligning themselves with the state and with 
the traditional institutions of the community. 66 

Once the sects aligned themselves with the traditional institutions in the 
community, their differences became less important and they found it 
easier to unite. As a result the union of churches proceeded more rapidly 
in Canada than in the United States. 

The "religious fecundity" of American Protestantism seems to be an 
outgrowth of the intertwining of the democratic value of free expression 

65 Evarts B. Greene, Religion and the State (Ithaca, N. Y.: Great Seal Books, 
1959), p. 101. 

66 S. D. dark, The Developing Canadian Community (Toronto: University 
of Toronto Press, 1962), p. 178. 

Religion and American Values 167 

of all political ideas with the Protestant stress on the obligation to follow 
individual conscience. 67 The norms of political tolerance and religious 
tolerance have been mutually reinforcing. The special pressure on 
churches to proselytize and to tolerate each other, brought about by 
'Voluntarism," is reinforced by another particular trait of American 
society its geographic, occupational, and class mobility, "This means that 
people have to be won over and over again as they move geographically 
and as they change their class orientations and find different aspirations 
for themselves." 68 With the massive shifting of populations that has 
characterized American history, neither individual churches or national 
denominations could remain satisfied with holding their own. Those 
denominations which did little proselytizing fell far behind in the com- 
petition for members and adherents. In the past as in the present, those 
who changed their circumstances have often been potential converts to 
another denomination. And the wide-spreading religious mobility from 
one sect to another, which has been stimulated by other forms of 
mobility, has meant that in all periods of American history a large 
proportion of the population has adhered to a denomination other than 
the one in which they were reared. It has been suggested that at least one 
consequence of this heterogeneity of the religious backgrounds of church 
members is the "ecumenical movement in which major groups recognize 
the legitimacy of each other." 69 

The fact that American religion is denominational has facilitated the 
development of religious groups which tend to serve only those parish- 
ioners who are roughly on the same social level in society. And the 
absence of multi-class religions (such as exist in countries where the 
church is established or represents the sole religion of the country) has 
meant that each "class" or ethnic religion could adapt its practices and 

67 See A. T. Mollegen, "Ethics of Protestantism" in F. Ernest Johnson, ed., 
Patterns of Ethics m America Today (New York: [Institute for Religious and 
Social Studies], Harper & Bros,, 1960), p. 53. "Christians and non-Christians . . . 
have a claim to our consideration both of their criticism of our own position 
and of their positive programs which differ from ours. This is the Protestant 
support of the democratic forum of public opinions. . . , they do it ... in order 
that Christians may know the shock of sincere Christians differing deeply and 
thus be humbled in their own positions even when they cannot in conscience 
change them." Ibid., p. 59. 

^Albert T. Rasmussen, "Contemporary Religious Appeals and Who Re- 
sponds," in Jane G Zahn, ed., Religion and the Face of America (Berkeley: 
University Extension, 1958), p. 4* 
69 Loc. cit. 

168 Stability in the Midst of Change 

specific beliefs to suit the needs of the group which it serves. 70 This has 
also meant that in this country religion could be either conservative or 
radical in its view of the class structure. No major social group has long 
been excluded from, or caused to be disaffected from, the "normal" 
religious life of the nation. Thus, denominationalism may have served to 
stabilize the polity. 

By virtue of their need to survive, denominational religions have 
historically resisted state control over different aspects of cultural life 
and in so doing have supported democracy. Tocqueville pointed out 
that, because of the survival need, even American Catholics, laymen and 
clergy alike, adopted democratic and republican principles. And he says: 
"They constitute a minority, and all rights must be respected in order 
to insure to them the free exercise of their own privileges. These . . . 
causes induce them, even unconsciously, to adopt political doctrines 
which they would perhaps support with less zeal if they were pre- 
ponderant." 71 This explanation of Catholic support for democratic values 
could easily be extended to all the denominations in the society, since 
none of them is large enough to constitute a majority. Such religious 
support for democracy constitutes the background for religious affiliation 
being considered a part of the "American Way of Life." 

The separation of the church and state has increasingly given religion 
per se a specific rather than a diffuse role in American society. The 
minister, the priest, and the rabbi, all deal in generalizations that extend 
beyond the confines of the church itself; but the members of the con- 
gregation do not necessarily carry these with them to their other activities, 
because they judge the religious leader in his specific role. Democracy's 
giving religion a specific role in American society as Sunday Religion 
may have, oddly enough, contributed to its all-pervasive and secular 
qualities. The only mention of religion on **weekdays" must be in terms 
of generally agreed upon morality which cannot be identified with the 
teachings of any given denomination. In so far as the secular and all- 
pervasive characteristics of American religion are a result of the 
emphasis on role specificity in American society, they have become 
accentuated with urbanization and industrialization. However, the con- 
sistency over time of foreign observers' remarks to the effect that Ameri- 
can religion is unique in these characteristics shows that neither of them 

has grown simply as a result of these modern trends. 

.._ * 

70 See Niebuhr, "The Protestant Movement and Democracy . . . ," op. cit. y 
pp. 57-59; and Persons, "Religion and Modernity . . . , op. ch., pp. 371-372. 

71 Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. II, p. 3 12. 

Religion and American Values 169 

The emphasis upon equality, between religions as among men, which 
intensified after the American Revolution, gave the subsequent develop- 
ment of religious institutions in America its special character. Democratic 
and religious values have grown together. The results have been that, 
on the one hand, Americans see religion as essential to the support of the 
democratic institutions they cherish, and therefore feel that aU Americans 
should profess some sort of religious faith; on the other hand, American 
denominations stress the ethical side of religion which they all have in 
common (and which is closely associated with other democratic values) 
rather than stressing transcendental beliefs wherein they differ. At the 
same time, democracy, by giving religious institutions a specific role 
in American society, has allowed them to proliferate, to adjust to peculiar 
needs, and to have a limited influence on their members' lives. 

Thus the consistency with which both secularization and widespread 
adherence have distinguished American religion throughout its history is a 
result of the fact that democratic values have continued to influence the 
growth of religious institutions as the society has changed. In this respect, 
the persistent traits in American religion resemble the constant traits in the 
American character. They have continued to distinguish America from 
other countries, precisely because they have stemmed from the basic 
American values that have remained relatively stable as the economy, 
population, and society of the country have changed. 

Trade Unions 
and the American 
Value System 


Although many may argue with my stress on the continuity of the 
essential traits of American character and religion, few would question the 
thesis that our business institutions have reflected the constant emphasis in 
the American value system on individual achievement. 1 From the earliest 
comments of foreign travelers down to the present, men have identified 
a strong materialistic bent as being a characteristic American trait. The 
worship of the dollar, the desire to make a profit, the effort to get ahead 
through the accumulation of wealth, all have been credited to the 
egalitarian character of the society, that is, to the absence of aristocracy. 
As Tocqueville noted in his discussion of the consequences of a democ- 
racy's destruction of aristocracy: "They have swept away the privileges 

1 See Francis X. Sutton, Seymour E. Harris, Carl Kaysen, and James Tobin, The 
American Business Creed (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956), p. 355, 
for a statement of the emphasis on achievement in business ideology as well 
as the strains produced by conflicting values. These authors state that "A 
basic stability ... in many elements of business ideology is evident from the 
most cursory examination of past business pronouncements" (p. 385). They 
believe that this ideological stability has maintained itself in the face of 
changing social structure and values. A study of managerial ideologies (how 
to deal with workers), as distinct from business ideologies, however, points 
to changes inherent in increased size and bureaucratization. See Reinhard 
Bendix, Work and Authority in Industry (New York: John Wiley, 1956), 
pp. 254-340. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 171 

of some of their fellow creatures which stood in their way, but they have 
opened the door to universal competition." 2 And the study of the com- 
ments on American workers of various nineteenth-century foreign 
travelers cited earlier notes that most of these European writers, among 
whom were a number of socialists, concluded that "social and economic 
democracy in America, far from mitigating competition for social 
status, intensified it. . . ." 8 

American secular and religious values both have facilitated the 
"triumph of American capitalism," and have fostered status striving. The 
focus on equalitarianism and individual opportunity has also prevented 
the emergence of class consciousness among the lower classes. The absence 
of a socialist or labor party, and the historic weakness of American trade- 
unionism, appear to attest to the strength of values which depreciated a 
concern with class. The growth of a large trade-union movement during 
the 1930's, together with the greater political involvement of labor 
organizations in the Democratic party, suggested to some that the day 
long predicted by many Marxists was arriving in which the American 
working class would finally follow in the footsteps of its European 
brethren. Such changes in the structure of class relations seemed to these 
observers to reflect the decline of opportunity and the hardening of class 
lines. To them such changes could not occur without modification in the 
traditional value system, that is, without a decline in the stress on equality 
and achievement. 

A close examination of the character of the American labor movement, 
however, suggests that it, like the church, may be perceived as reflecting 
the basic values of the larger society. Although unions, like all other 
American institutions, have changed in various ways congruent with the 
growth of an urban industrial civilization, the essential traits of American 
trade unions, as of business corporations, may still be derived from key 
elements in the American value system. 

Since a large labor movement is of relatively recent vintage in Ameri- 
can society, I shall not try to trace historical continuities in its behavior 
and structure. Rather, I shall attempt to specify how the character of 
American unions differs from those in other industrial countries, and to 
account for these differences by analyzing the relationship between labor 
movements and the social structures of these nations. In moving from a 

2 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Vintage Books, 
1959), Vol. n, p. 146. 

a Robert W. Smuts, European Impressions of the American Worker (New 
York: King's Crown Press, 1953), p. 13. 

172 Stability in the Midst of Change 

more historical to a more comparative approach, I have purposely limited 
the scope of the comparison to those countries which most resemble the 
United States in economic and political organization. 

The union movements compared are all located in industrially devel- 
oped nations which have relatively stable democratic political systems. 
They are characterized by "the uninterrupted continuation of political 
democracy since World War I and the absence of a major political move- 
ment opposed to the democratic 'rules of the game/ "* They are also 
similar in the assumptions they make about the role of unions and the na- 
ture of industrial relations. The labor movements of these countries all 
assume, more or less, as Hugh Clegg has recently put it, that "unions 
must be independent both of the state and of management . . . , that only 
the unions can represent the industrial interests of workers . . . [and] that 
the ownership of industry is irrelevant to good industrial relations." 6 These 
nations are "die United States, Britain, Scandinavia, Holland, Switzerland, 
Australia, Canada and New Zealand." 6 

Although the American kbor movement is similar to others in many 
respects, it differs from those of the other stable democracies in ideology, 
class solidarity, tactics, organizational structure, and patterns of leader- 
ship behavior. American unions are more conservative; they are more 
narrowly self-interested; their tactics are more militant; they are more 
decentralized in their collective bargaining; and they have many more 
full-time salaried officials, who are on the whole much more highly paid 
and who exhibit a somewhat greater penchant to engage in corrupt prac- 
tices. American unions have also organized a smaller proportion of the 
kbor force than have unions in these other nations. 7 

In stressing variations between American unionism and that of other 
countries, particularly those of northwestern Europe and Australasia, I 
do not mean to imply that any of these differences are of such magnitude 
as to make American unionism a qualitatively different phenomenon from 
the others. Clearly, the kbor movements in all industrialized democracies 
have great similarities and perform similar functions. Although American 

4 Seymour Martin Lipset, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Garden 
City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1960), pp. 48-49. 

5 Hugh Clegg, A New Approach to Industrial Democracy (Oxford: Black- 
well, 1960), p. 21. 

6 Loc. cit. My list in Political Man includes Belgium and Luxemburg as well. 
T These points have been elaborated and documented in my "Le syndicalisme 
americain et les valeurs de la societe americaine," Sociologie du Travail, 2 
(1961), pp. 161-181. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 173 

unions are less class conscious politically than those of Europe, they are 
certainly involved in politics. 8 American labor leaders earn more relative 
to the rank and file than do European labor leaders, but the perquisites of 
the latter are also quite considerable in the form of high status, power, 
interesting work, travel, and the like. With the possible exception of lead- 
ership corruption and involvement in private business, almost every prac- 
tice which may be mentioned as characteristic of American unionism is 
to be found in the northwestern European or Australasian movements. 
Clearly, as Clegg indicates, the labor movements of this industrialized, 
democratic "culture area" resemble each other greatly when contrasted 
with the types of movements found in southern and Latin Europe and 
in the underdeveloped states. But it is obvious also that considerable dif- 
ferences do exist between the labor movement of the United States and 
those of other countries in its "culture area." 

Social Structure: the Source of American Unionism 

In order to explain, in part, why American unionism differs from the 
unionism of the other predominantly Protestant, industrial democracies 
of northwestern Europe and Australasia, it is necessary to describe in more 
detail the way in which the trade union, as an American institution, has 
responded to and reflected the pressures generated by the interplay be- 
tween America's basic values and the facts of social stratification in an in- 
dustrial society. The stress on equality and achievement in American so- 
ciety has meant that Americans are much more likely to be concerned 
with the achievement of approved ends particularly pecuniary success 
than with the use of appropriate means the behavior considered appro- 
priate to a given position or status. In a country which stresses success 
above all, men are led to feel that the most important thing is to win the 

8 Their relations with the Democratic Party resemble those of many European 
unions with their socialist parties. However, as Cyriax and Oakeshott note: 
"The fact still remains that the British unions are 'in politics* in a sense in 
which their United States counterparts are definitely not. Their leaders still 
subscribe to a large body of Socialist objectives which can only be achieved 
through political action. ... In America, by contrast, there is no distinct set 
of political beliefs superimposed on the informal working arrangements be- 
tween the unions and the Democratic Party. Formally, therefore, the AFL-CIO 
is not affiliated to any party, and only tends to become involved in active 
politics when anti-union legislation is in the air." George Cyriax and Robert 
Oakeshott, The Bargainers: A Survey of Modern Trade Unionism (New 
York: Praeger, 1960), pp. 212-213. 

174 Stability in the Midst of Change 

game, regardless of the methods employed in doing so. American culture 
applies the norms of a completely competitive society to everyone. Win- 
ners take all. As Robert K. Merton has put it: 

What makes American culture relatively distinctive ... is that it is 
"a society which pkces a high premium on economic affluence and 
social ascent for all its members." . . . this patterned expectation is 
regarded as appropriate for everyone, irrespective of his initial lot 
or station in life. . . . 

This leads naturally to the subsidiary theme that success or failure 
are results wholly of personal qualities, that he who fails has only 
himself to blame, for the corollary to the concept of the self-made 
man is the self-unmade man. To the extent that this cultural defini- 
tion is assimilated by those who have not made their mark, failure 
represents a double defeat: the manifest defeat of remaining far be- 
hind in the race for success and the implicit defeat of not having the 
capacities and moral stamina needed for success. ... It is in this 
cultural setting that, in a significant proportion of cases, the threat 
of defeat motivates men to the use of those tactics, beyond the law 
or the mores, which promise "success." 

The moral mandate to achieve success thus exerts pressure to suc- 
ceed, by fair means if possible and by foul means if necessary. 9 

In contrast, one of the essential norms in more traditionalistic, as- 
criptive, or aristocratic societies is that one should behave in a manner 
appropriate to one's station. In the morality of aristocracy, to play the 
game well is more important than victory. All privileged strata seek to 
develop norms which justify their right to high status and which limit, if 
they do not eliminate, the possibility that they may be supplanted by 
"new men," by the upwardly mobile who succeed by "innovating" that 
is, by ignoring the conventions. To emphasize correct behavior, manners, 
and so forth, is to reward the characteristics which those born to privilege 
are most likely to have. And since it is part of the logic of family life and 
social stratification to desire to perpetuate if not enhance the status of 
children and other family members, there is constant pressure in all so- 
cieties to create "aristocratic" norms, or to preserve them if they have 

Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure (Glencoe, HI.: The 
Free Press, 1957), pp. 167-169. Merton reports considerable evidence docu- 
menting the thesis that pecuniary success is the dominant American value. I 
have leaned heavily on his paper, "Social Structure and Anomie," in this anal- 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 175 

been handed down from previous eras, as has been the case for most Euro- 
pean countries. 

Because of its revolutionary origins, America entered the era of a cap- 
italist, industrial, and politically democratic society without the traditions 
of an aristocratic or deferential order. As a result, the norms of aristoc- 
racy, though present to a limited extent among the social elite, have not 
been able to make much headway. The tendency of the successful achiev- 
ers to undermine equality has been checked by the recurrent victories of 
the forces of equality in the political order. Capitalism and industrialism 
have reinforced equalitarian forces in this struggle: a market economy 
operates best under conditions of free competition, recognising neither 
family background nor social limitations. 

In a society with aristocratic origins, where norms derived from a pre- 
industrial social system still retain force and where they have often been 
partly accepted by the newer upper class of industrial society, there is 
greater emphasis on the propriety of class consciousness. Such a society, 
which pkces less emphasis on general achievement by everyone regard- 
less of background, usually incorporates more f articular sets of goals for 
each major social stratum. Thus a worker who is the son of a worker is 
less likely to view himself a personal failure than is a comparably situated 
man in a more equalitarian and achievement-oriented culture such as that 
of the United States. The weaker sense of personal failure felt by lower 
stratum individuals in such a "particularistic" social order does not mean 
that they feel less resentment over having inferior status, but rather that 
they are less likely to feel personally responsible for their "failure" or to 
feel the need to do something extraordinary about it. Deprived individ- 
uals are more likely to try to improve their situations collectively through 
social movements and class-conscious political parties. Or to put it in de- 
scriptive terms: in an achievement-oriented society such as the United 
States, the lower status person is more likely to feel impelled to drive 
himself to get ahead; in the more ascriptive European cultures, there will 
be greater emphasis on collective modification of the class structure. 10 

Since the emphasis is on individual success in the United States, those in- 
dividuals or groups who feel themselves handicapped and who seek to re- 
solve their consequent doubts about their personal worth are under strong 
pressure to "innovate," that is, to use whatever means they can find to 

10 Of course, these are only relative comparisons; Europeans try to get ahead, 
and Americans try to change the distribution of privilege. It is the difference 
in emphasis that I stress here. 

176 Stability in the Midst of Change 

gain recognition. This pressure to innovate may be reflected in efforts 
which established groups would not make for example, the develop- 
ment of new and risky industries by those of recent immigrant back- 
ground and low status who are barred, by limited economic resources 
and social discrimination, from advancing up economic ladders. 11 Simi- 
larly, urban machine politics, which required the use of "unconventional" 
tactics, became a road to success for various immigrant groups. 

The pressure to succeed may also lead individuals and groups to serve 
social needs which are outside the law, in occupations usually described 
as "rackets." Organized vice prostitution, bootlegging, and gambling 
has been open to ambitious individuals from deprived social backgrounds 
when other fields were closed. The rackets have attracted members of 
minority ethnic groups who are strongly motivated by the American 
emphasis on achievement, but who are limited in their access to legitimate 
means of succeeding. Members of groups engaged in illegitimate businesses 
often do not conceive of themselves as engaged in crime, but rather as 
conforming to the achievement norms. 

Criminal activities and corrupt politics may be found to some extent in 
all countries and may be more prevalent in impoverished regions of the 
world, such as Asia, southern Europe, and Latin America; but within the 
general culture area of the predominantly Protestant, relatively affluent, 
industrialized nations of northwestern Europe and the English-speaking 
countries of the Commonwealth, the United States is well out in the lead. 
As many observers have pointed out, the comparatively high crime rate 
in America, both in the form of lower-class rackets and white-collar and 
business defalcation, may be perceived as a consequence of the stress laid 
on success. Daniel Bell, for example, has suggested that racketeering may 
be seen as a natural by-product of American culture: 

Crime, in many ways, is a Coney Island mirror, caricaturing the 
morals and manners of a society. The jungle quality of the American 
business community, particularly at the turn of the century, was 
reflected in the mode of "business" practiced by the coarse gangster 
elements, most of them from new immigrant families, who were 
"getting ahead," just as Horatio Alger had urged. . . . 

The desires satisfied in extra-legal fashion were more than a hun- 
ger for the "forbidden fruits" of conventional morality. They also 
involved in the complex and ever shifting structure of group, class, 

11 The Jews, for example, pkyed a major role in developing the motion picture 
industry and in introducing credit practices in retail selling. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 177 

and ethnic stratification, which is the warp and woof of America's 
"open" society, such "normal" goals as independence through a busi- 
ness of one's own, and such "moral" aspirations as the desire for so- 
cial advancement and social prestige. For crime, in the language of 
the sociologists, has a "functional" role in the society, and the urban 
rackets the illicit activity organized for continuing profit, rather 
than individual illegal acts . . . [are] one of the queer ladders of 
social mobility in American life. 12 

Given the extent of the pressure to "innovate," it is not surprising to 
find evidence that the successful may win general acceptance even if 
there is public knowledge that they used extralegal methods to get ahead. 
In the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Dickens commented that in Amer- 

The merits of a broken speculation, or a bankruptcy, or of a suc- 
cessful scoundrel, are not gauged by its or his observance of the 
golden rule, "Do as you would be done by," but are considered with 

reference to their smartness The following dialogue I have held 

a hundred times: "Is it not a very disgraceful circumstance that 
such a man as So-and-So should be acquiring a large property by the 
most infamous and odious means, and notwithstanding all the crimes 
of which he has been guilty, should be tolerated and abetted by 
your citizens? He is a public nuisance, is he not?" 'Tes, Sir." "A 
convicted liar?" 'Tes, Sir." "He has been kicked, and cuffed, and 
caned?" "Yes, Sir." "And he is utterly dishonourable, debased, and 
profligate?" *Tes, Sir." "In the name of wonder, then, what is his 
merit?" "Well, Sir, he is a smart man." 13 

A study of a Boston election in the 1940's in which James Curley was re- 
elected mayor while under a charge of fraud (for which he was sub- 

12 Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology (Glencoe, HI.: The Free Press, 1960), 
pp. 116-117. 

13 Charles Dickens, American Notes, aid Pictures from Italy (New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1957), pp. 245-246. This quotation has been fre- 
quently cited. See Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure, p. 142; Gabriel 
Almond, The American People and Foreign Policy (New York: Harconrt, 
Brace, 1950), p. 34; and Henry Steele Commager, America in Perspective 
(New York: Mentor Books, 1947), p. 80. Dickens* comments on the willing- 
ness of Americans to accept bankrupts reiterated those of many other foreign 
visitors; see, for example, Gustave de Beaumont, Marie, or Slavery in the 
United States (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958), pp. 221-222. 

178 Stability in the Midst of Change 

sequendy convicted) reported that there was a general image among his 
supporters, who were aware of the charges of dishonesty, that he "gets 
things done." 14 

Societal Values and the Union Movement 

INDIVIDUAL UNIONS The lack of a class-conscious ideology in the Amer- 
ican labor movement may be directly traced to the equalitarian, anti-class 
orientation of the values associated with America's national identity. Thus 
it may be suggested that one of the reasons unions have had trouble new segments of the employed population as compared to 
unions in northern Europe is that they have been handicapped by their 
slightly illegitimate position relative to the value sytsem. "Union" con- 
notes "class" organization. 

In an interesting effort to account for the failure of socialism to take 
root in American society, Leon Samson has suggested that an important 
cause has been that Americanism is a political ideology with much the 
same value content as socialism. 15 It endorses the progress of the society 
toward the more equal distribution of privileges that socialism demands. 
As a result, the rank and file members of American kbor unions have not 
had to look for an ideology that justified the changes which they desired 
in the society. 

However, the failure of the American kbor movement to identify it- 
self as a class movement may be traced more directly to the way in which 
equalitarianism and achievement orientation permeated the social struc- 
ture. As Schumpeter has noted, the self-interested orientation of the 
American kbor movement is but the application, in the realm of working- 
class life and trade unions, of the general value scheme. 16 Indeed, instead 
of reducing the individualistic orientation that Marxism associates 'with 
the early phase of capitalism, increasing industrialization in American so- 
ciety has reinforced the egalitarian-achievement attitudes toward stratifi- 
cation that early became part of the American natioTial character. In a 

14 See Jerome S. Bruner and Sheldon J. Korchin, "The Boss and the Vote: A 
Case Study in City Politics," The Public Opinion Quarterly, 10 (1946), p. 21. 

15 Leon Samson, Towards a United Front (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 
1933), pp. 1-90. 

16 Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (New York: 
Harper & Bros., 1942), pp. 331-336. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 179 

sense, industrialization has lent these attitudes continued legitimacy: in- 
dustrialization and advancing technology brought about an almost un- 
broken increase in national wealth on both an absolute and a per capita 
basis, so that in the nineteenth century America became the wealthiest 
country in the world, a position it has never relinquished. 17 And as David 
Potter has well stressed, the fact of increasing abundance, no matter how 
unequally distributed, has served to permit the majority of the American 
population, including most trade-unionists, to enjoy a visible living stand- 
ard roughly comparable among all groups with the exception of the ex- 
tremely wealthy: 

American social distinctions, however real they may be and however 
difficult to break down, are not based upon or supported by great 
disparities in wealth, in education, in speech, in dress, etc., as they 
are in the old world. If the American class structure is in reality 
very unlike the classless society which we imagine, it is equally un- 
like the formalized class societies of former times. . . . the factor of 
abundance has . . . constantly operated to equalize the overt dif- 
ferences between the various classes. . . . 18 

Within this context the very success of trade unions in improving the 
relative position of their members vis <J vis other groups in the population 
has simply contributed to the maintenance of their members' belief in the 
American value system. 

THE MILITANT TACTICS OF UNIONS Just as ideological conservatism 
and pursuit of narrow self-interests may be derived from the value system, 

17 Between 1869 and 1953 per capita annual income (standardized to 1929 
prices) rose from $215 to $1,043. George J. Stigler, Trends in Employment in 
the Service Industries (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1956), 
p. 25. The gross national product increased five times from 1890 to 1950 as a 
result of a two-fold increase in population and a three-fold rise in labor 
productivity. Frederick C. Mills, Productivity and Economic Progress (New 
York: National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., 1952), p. 2. This increase 
in the gross national product has, in turn, meant that the average income 
per consumption unit increased. In 1929, it was $4,190 per year, standardized 
to 1960 prices; in 1954, it was $6,730. Simon Kuznets, "Income Distribution 
and Changes in Consumption," in Hoke S. Simpson, ed., The Changing 
American Population (A Report of the Arden House Conference, jointly 
sponsored by the Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, and the 
Institute of Life Insurance, 1962), p. 30. 

18 David Potter, People of Plenty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 
1954), p. 102. 

180 Stability in the Midst of Change 

so may the use of violent and militant tactics. 19 Here the labor movement, 
like American business, reflects the social system's relatively greater 
emphasis on ends as contrasted with means. One tries to win economic 
and social objectives by whatever means are at hand. The fact that 
American workers are sufficiently dissatisfied with their economic condi- 
tions to tolerate relatively frequent, long, and bitter strikes may also be 
explained by reference to the social structure and its values. In summing 
up the conclusions of late nineteenth-century foreign visitors to America, 
Robert Smuts points out that they saw it in this light: 

The frequency and the bitterness of industrial conflict was the most 
basic fault the foreigners found in American industrial life. . . . 

Most of the European visitors explained industrial conflict as a 
result rather than a contradiction of the material and social democ- 
racy which typified the life of the American worker. The abundance 
of his life, they pointed out, added to the strength of his ambition 
for more. His self-reliance made him sensitive to his rights. Industrial 
conflict in America was a man-to-man fight, with no quarter asked 
or given, unmitigated by the tradition of subordination on the one 
hand, or of benevolence and responsibility on the other. 20 

It may also be argued that we should expect more individual discontent 
with income and position among workers in America than within the 
more rigidly and visibly stratified European countries. The more rigid 
the stratification of a nation, the more candid the emphasis on the 
existence of differences among classes, the greater the extent to which 
lower status individuals will be likely to contrast their lot as a class 
with that of the more privileged classes. On the other hand, in a more 
loosely structured class system, people will be more prone to compare 
themselves individually with other workers who are relatively close to 
them in income and status. Thus if, in the latter system, groups or in- 

19 For data on the greater propensity of North American and Australian 
unions to strike, see Arthur M. Ross and Paul T. Hartman, Changing Pat- 
term of Industrial Conflict (New York: John Wiley, 1960), pp. 141-145, 
161-162. See also B. C. Roberts, Unions in America: A British View (Prince- 
ton, N.J.: Industrial Relations Section, Princeton University, 1959), p. 95. 

20 Smuts, European Impressions of the American Worker, pp. 26-27. On 
greater violence and bitterness, see also Roberts, Unions in America, p. 95; 
Louis Adamic, Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence in America (New 
York: Viking Press, 1934); and Henry Pelling, America and the British Left 
from Bright to Sevan (New York: New York University Press, 1956), p. 79. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 181 

dividuals improve their status, there will be resentment on the part of 
those left behind. 

In other words, an open-class system leads workers to resent inequalities 
in income and status between themselves and others more frequently than 
does an ascriptively stratified system, where the only inequalities that 
count are class inequalities. America's equalitarian value system, by less 
clearly defining the range of groups with which workers may legitimately 
compare themselves, can make for greater individual discontent among 
workers than is the case in Europe. 21 European social structure, by re- 
garding labor, in the words of Winston Churchill, as "an estate of the 
realm," makes clear to workers why they are lowly and calls upon them 
to act collectively; American social structure, by eschewing estates, creat- 
ing vague and even illegitimate class boundaries, and stressing equality, 
blames individuals for being lowly and calls upon them to alleviate their 
resentment by improving their status in as self-interested and narrowly 
defined terms as possible. John L. Lewis, founder of the Congress of 
Industrial Organizations, president of the United Mine Workers for 
nearly forty years, and perhaps the most militant labor leader in the 
United States since the 1920's was a Republican most of his life and a 
strong advocate of conservative, laissez-faire economics (although he was 
willing to use state power to bolster his union and the coal industry). 

There is some evidence in support of the contention that this self- 
interested bargaining policy does make sense for any particular group. 
Recent research dealing with the influence of trade unions on wages 
suggests that the existence of organized labor does not change the national 
distribution of income between workers and owners through collective 
bargaining, but it may improve the wage situation of one group of work- 
ers relative to others. 22 (As will be noted later, it has been argued, how- 

21 See Seymour Martin Lipset and Martin Trow, "Reference Group Theory 
and Trade-Union Wage Policy," in Mirra Komarovsky, editor, Common 
Frontiers of the Social Sciences (Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press, 1957), pp. 391- 

22 See John Dunlop, Wage Detennmation under Trade Unions (New York: 
Macmillan, 1944), and The Theory of Wage Determination (New York: 
Macmillan, 1957); Cyriax and Oakeshott, The Bargainers, p. 170; and Melvin 
W. Reder, "Jb Scarcity and the Nature of Union Power," Industrial and 
Labor Relations Review, 13, (1960), pp. 349-362. In a detailed summary of 
research on the subject, Clark Kerr concludes that there is no evidence that 
collective bargaining has increased labor's share of the national income in 
the United States, and further that there is "no significant relationship be- 
tween the degree of unionization and kbor's share, industry group by 

182 Stability in the Midst of Change 

ever, that aggressive unionism increases national wealth and thereby 
workers' incomes in absolute terms by creating constant pressure on 
employers to mechanize and increase productivity so as to readjust any 
imbalances created by increases in labor costs.) Hence the narrow self- 
interested policies traditionally pursued by many American unions would 
seem to be warranted if the objective of unionism is to secure as much 
as possible for the members of the given union. This is most likely to be 
its objective if the union movement reflects the values of achievement 
and individualism. 

Conversely, however, there seems to be evidence that government can 
redistribute income among the classes through welfare, tax, and spending 
policies. 23 Thus, if the labor movement seeks to improve the situation of 
an entire class, a goal inherent in the economic conflicts which emerged 
in the previously aristocratic societies, a policy of concentrating on 
political action rather than trade union militancy is warranted. 

LARGE WAGE DIFFERENTIALS The approval of the pursuit of self- 
interest within the American labor movement may also help to account 
for the fact that wage differentials between skilled and unskilled workers 
are larger in America than in the other nations. A study of such 
differentials in six countries indicates that in France, Germany, Italy, 
the Netherlands, and Norway, "skill differentials are rather narrow, 
compared, say, with United States averages." 24 And: "Differences in 
wages between unskilled and skilled jobs in Swedish industry are gen- 
erally much less than in America. For example, the head machine operator 
in an American paper mill will earn at least 50 per cent more than the 
lowest paid worker in the mill. In Sweden the difference is less than 20 
per cent." 25 
There are many factors related to variations in wage differentials, but it 

industry group." See his "Trade-Unionism and Distributive Shares," The 
American Economic Review, Tapers and "Proceedings, 44 (1954), p. 289. An 
opposite conclusion is reached by Robert Ozanne, "Impact of Unions on 
Wage Levels and Income Distribution," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 
73 (1959), pp. 177-196. 
^Kerr, "Trade Unionism and Distributive Shares," op. cit., pp. 279-292. 

24 Adolf Sturmthal, ed., Contemporary Collective Bargaining in Seven Coun- 
tries (Ithaca, N.Y.: Institute of International Industrial and Labor Relations, 
1957), p. 335. 

25 Charles A. Myers, Industrial Relations m Sweden (Cambridge, Mass.: 
Technology Press, 1951), p. 42. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 183 

seems possible that variations in basic values may pky a role. Sturmthal 
points this out: 

Undoubtedly also the notions of what are proper differentials . . . 
vary a good deal on both sides of the Atlantic. The absence of 
feudal concepts of the place in society to which a worker may 
properly aspire may have pkyed a part in allowing the larger wage 
differentials to arise in the United States, just as the heritage of the 
feudal concepts may have helped maintain the highly compressed 
wage structure in Europe. 26 

The very insistence on the "formal" equality of all people in the 
United States places a higher value on income and conspicuous con- 
sumption than in societies in which status and occupation are closely 
linked. Although comparative studies of occupational status indicate that 
occupations tend to rank at roughly the same level in all industrial 
societies, 27 occupation seems to be less important than sheer income as 
a determinant of status in the United States, as compared with some 
European nations. Two surveys made at about the same time in the 
United States and Germany suggest this interpretation (see Table HI), 
Although the differences in results may reflect the variations in the 
questions that were asked, it seems likely that both surveys touched to 
some extent on the same basic issue: the relative weight given to oc- 
cupational prestige as compared with the size of income. In both countries 
those who had higher status (Le., those who were either better educated 
or who occupied a white-collar position) were more likely than those 
of lower status to favor white-collar status, even if it meant lower income 
than that obtained by a skilled worker. But the important result was 
that the majority of the American respondents, even among the college 
graduates, preferred the higher paid, lower status job; on the other hand, 

26 Stunnthal, Contemporary Collective Bargaining m Seven Countries, p. 343. 
27 See Alex Inkeles and Peter Rossi, "National Comparisons of Occupational 
Prestige," American Journal of Sociology, 61 (1956), p. 339. These authors 
compared the results of surveys completed in Japan, Great Britain, the United 
States, Germany, Australia, and a sample of Russian "defectors." They con- 
cluded that the rankings were roughly similar in these countries. Later studies 
in Brazil, the Philippines, Denmark, and the Netherlands showed similar 
results. For discussion and references, see S. M. Lipset and R. Bendix, Social 
Mobility in Industrial Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 
1959), pp. 14, 111. 

184 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Table III 

Preference Percentages for White-Collar Status and Low Income 
or for Manual Position and High Income in Germany and the 
United States 


"Which of these two jobs ivould you personally prefer a son of yours 
to take, assuming he is equally qualified: a skilled worker's job at $100 a 
week, or a white-collar desk job at $15 a week?" 


j. caid UJL JL: 








White collar 






Skilled laborer 






Don't know 












Number interviewed 






Source: Computed from Gallup data m the files of the Roper Public Opinion Re- 
search Center at Williams College. 


"Who do you think receives more prestige from the population in 
general: a bookkeeper who earns 300 marks a month, or a foundry 
'worker 'who brings home 450 marks a month?" 




Manual Worker 
Respondents Only 

The bookkeeper 
The foundry worker 
Don't know 






Source: Erich Peter Neumann and Elizabeth Noelle, Antworten, Politik im Kraftf eld 
der offendichen Meinung (Allensbach am Bodensee: Verlag fur Demoskopie, 
1934} , p. 1(H. 

the majority of the German respondents ranked the lower paid, white- 
collar job higher. 

A report on a similar study in another European country, this time a 
Communist one, Poland, suggests that in that country, as in Germany, 
white-collar status is given more weight than income. This study, which 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 185 

was apparently more like the American than the German in its approach, 
indicates that "passage of the better paid skilled manual workers to the 
position of the slightly lower paid white-collar workers . , . in the 
majority of cases is looked on as a promotion . * . [although] from the 
point of view of the new criteria of prestige, this should not be considered 
a promotion." 28 

Assuming, therefore, that higher occupational status is more of an 
incentive in countries with relatively formalized status systems than in 
countries stressing equalitarian behavioral norms, there should be less need 
in the first group of societies to magnify economic incentives in order to 
motivate people to prepare for positions requiring long periods of train- 
ing. 29 As Sturmthal has put it, "incentives that are necessary in one 
country to produce a certain supply of highly skilled labor may be 
excessive in another country or vice versa. This may be the result of 
different non-economic compensations offered to the higher skills status 
and prestige or simply of different 'styles of life' in which lesser 
financial rewards are sufficient to bring about the desired result." 30 

Differences in behavior of organized labor from country to country 
seem to reflect in some measure variations in the differentials that are 
considered morally appropriate. Thus, in the United States, for in- 
dividuals or groups of individuals to seek to better themselves at the 
expense of others tends to be encouraged by the dominant achievement 
orientation. In the past few years, several industrial unions formed by the 
CIO have had difficulty with skilled workers among their membership 
who have insisted that the wage differentials be widened. In New York, 
the most highly skilled groups employed on the city's transportation 
system tried to break away from the Transport Workers' Union to 
form separate craft unions. A strike called for this purpose failed, but 
this relatively old industrial union made important concessions to its 
skilled workers. In the United Automobile Workers the skilled crafts 
have been allowed to form separate councils within the union and have 
forced the union to press their demand for greater differentials. In some 
old craft unions which accepted unskilled and semi-skilled workers, the 

28 S. Ossowski, "Social Mobility Brought About by Social Revolutions,* 1 Fourth 
Working Conference on Social Stratification and Social Mobility (Inter- 
national Sociological Association, December, 1957, p. 3. 

29 "The function of skill differentials is primarily to provide incentives to 
embark upon careers requiring longer and arduous training." Sturmthal, 
Contemporary Collective Bargaining m Seven Countries, p. 340. 

p. 341. 

186 Stability In the Midst of Change 

latter were often given second-class membership, i.e., no voting rights, 
to prevent them from inhibiting the bargaining strategy of the skilled 
group. 81 

In much of Europe, on the other hand, the norms implicit in socialist 
and working-class ideology have made such behavior difficult. The 
Swedish labor movement for many years made a reduction of dif- 
ferentials one of its aims. 32 Clark Kerr notes that in Germany one of the 
forces which explains the greater emphasis on wage equality has been 
"Socialist theories of standardizing pay. . . ." 33 In Italy after World 
War II, "for political reasons and under the pressure of left-wing parties, 
the general trend was in favor of raising as much as possible the wages 
paid to common laborers. . . ." 34 The Norwegian labor movement fol- 
lowed for many years the policy of "wages solidarity," i.e., the reduction 
of differentials. 35 

In recent years, under pressure from their skilled members and on the 
advice of various economists who are disturbed by the possible effects on 
efficiency of narrow differentials for large variations in skills, many of 
the European labor movements have formally dropped their insistence on 
narrowing the gap, and some even advocate widening it. As far as the 
labor economists can judge, the skill differentials, which began dropping 
in most countries in the late 1930 J s and continued falling until around 
1952, have been rising slightly since then. For socialists, however, to 
avowedly seek to benefit a more well-to-do group at the expense of the 
poorer one would seem to violate essential values. 36 And the greater 

31 The practice is now illegal. For a general discussion of some of these 
problems, see David Cole, "Union Self-Discipline and the Freedom of Indi- 
vidual Workers," in Michael Harrington and Paul Jacobs, eds., Labor in a 
Free Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959), pp. 88-101. 

32 Myers, Industrial Relations in Sweden, p. 43. 

33 dark Kerr, "Collective Bargaining in Postwar Germany," in Adolf 
Sturmthal, ed., Contemporary Collective Bargaining in Seven Countries, p. 

34 Luisa R. Sanseverino, "Collective Bargaining in Italy," in Sturmthal, ed,. 
op. cit., p. 224. 

35 Sturmthal, in Stunnthal, ed., op. cit., p. 339. 

36 There has, of course, been tension between the skilled and unskilled sections 
of the labor movement over such issues in most countries. The point here, 
as in the other comparisons, is always a relative rather than an absolute one. 
Denmark, for example, represents an extreme case of such internecine war- 
fare. The Laborers Union, the union of the unskilled, which contains almost 
40 per cent of all organized workers in the country, has had bitter battles 
with the craft unions over wage systems. However, as Galenson notes, "Ac- 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 187 

centralization of the union movement in most of these European coun- 
tries requires that such a wage policy be an explicit national one, rather 
than one simply reflecting adjustments to immediate pressures. 

The general behavior of American unions in perpetuating wide dif- 
ferentials is congruent with the assumption that Americans remain more 
narrowly self-interested and that the more powerful groups of workers 
are able to maintain or occasionally even improve a relatively privileged 
position at the expense of the less powerful, usually less organized, and 
less skilled workers. 37 

Societal Values and Union Leadership 

Any effort to account for the ways in which American unionism 
differs from unionism in northern Europe and Australasia necessarily 
must deal with the behavior of the leaders. As recent congressional 
investigations and journalistic exposes have made manifest, union officials 
in this country receive higher salaries, are more wont to engage in 
practices which violate conventional morality, and show a lesser regard 
for the mechanisms of democratic procedure than leaders in the other 
nations discussed here. 

TIONS The concept of "business unionism,*' the dominant ideology 
of the American labor movement which perceives unions as fighting for 
more money rather than for any program of social reconstruction, has 
important consequences in encouraging union leaders to view them- 
selves as bound by the same standards as profit-oriented businessmen. 

ceptance of socialism by Danish workers by no means eliminated or even 
dampened internecine strife when important economic interests were involved, 
but it did contribute to prevention of the breaches of kbor solidarity some- 
times witnessed in American rival union warfare." And in the 1930's, the 
Danish Federation of Labor adopted "the so-called 'solidaristic' wage policy, 
whereby lower paid workers were to receive extra wage concessions. . . ." 
Walter Galenson, The Danish System of Labor Relations (Cambridge, Mass.: 
Harvard University Press, 1952), pp. 50-57, 68, 186. 

37 Skill and organized collective bargaining power do not necessarily go to- 
gether. Among the less skilled groups which have powerful unions are the 
coal miners, the truck drivers, and the West Coast longshoremen. It may 
also be suggested that one further reason for widespread skill differentials in 
the United States has been the constant addition of immigrants, most recently 
Negroes and Puerto Ricans, to the lowest occupational strata. Such sources 
of migration may involve downward pressure on the wages of the unskilled. 

188 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Usually the leaders of social movements are expected to have a 
"calling," to feel moved by a moral ethic toward serving certain major 
social values. In the early days of many American unions, when they 
were weak, often illegitimate, and could yield few rewards in the f orm 
of status, power, or income, their leaders did adhere to some such larger 
ideology, often a variant of socialism. This ideology prescribed certain 
standards of ethical behavior and a certain style of life. But as American 
union leaders shifted from social or socialist unionism to business unionism, 
they also changed their values and standards of comparisons. To a con- 
siderable extent, those unions which have retained important aspects of 
socialist values, such as the United Automobile Workers or the Inter- 
national Ladies Garment Workers Union, are precisely the unions whose 
leaders, even with great power, still insist upon relatively low officer 
salaries and show great concern over problems of corruption and civil 
liberties. 38 To the extent that union office has changed from a "calling" 
to a "career" as unions have aged and ideology has declined, to that 
extent have leaders lost their inhibitions about comparing themselves 
with businessmen or widening the discrepancy between their salaries 
and those of their members. 39 

38 The two unions which have established external boards to review appeals 
from members who feel that they have been deprived of their rights by 
union officers are the United Automobile Workers and the Upholsterers 
International Union. Both organizations are still led by men who show various 
signs of having retained parts of their early socialist beliefs. 

39 For a more elaborate discussion of these concepts, see Lipset, Political 
Man, pp. 383-389. In the United States, "the gap between the members' wages 
and the salaries of the presidents of the larger unions has increased relatively 
during the 1940's and 1950's. The heads of the dozen largest unions have 
salaries ranging from $18,000 to $60,000 a year, plus ample expense accounts 
and frequently other perquisites.** Richard Lester, As Unions Mature (Prince- 
ton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1958), p. 27. For data on union leaders' 
salaries in three different periods, see G Wright Mills, New Men of Power 
(New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948), p. 305; Philip Taft, Structure and 
Government of Labor Unions (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 
1954), pp. 104-110; and Harry Cohany and Irving P. Philips, Union Con- 
stitution Provisions: Election and Tenure of International Union Officers, 
1958 (Washington: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1958), pp. 21-24. A 
recent study which yields much information on the salaries of European 
labor leaders is Walter Galenson, Trade Union Democracy in Western 
Europe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961). British salaries are 
reported in H. A. Clegg, A. J. Killick, and Rex Adams, Trade Union Officers 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961), pp. 55-60. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 189 

The emphasis on pecuniary success, combined "with the absence of the 
kind of class consciousness characteristic of more aristocratic societies, 
has thus served to motivate workers to use the labor movement itself as 
an avenue to financial and status gain. The high incomes which many 
union leaders receive represent their adaptation to the norm of "getting 
ahead." As long as a union leader has the reputation for "delivering the 
goods" to his members, they seem willing to allow him a high salary and 
sometimes the right to engage in private business, or even to be 
corrupt. 40 

The greater perquisites attached to high union office in America, a 
seeming consequence of pressure inherent in the achievement-equalitarian- 
ism syndrome, may also account for the fact that American union leaders 
have formally institutionalized dictatorial mechanisms which prevent the 
possibility of their being defeated for re-election. Although trade-union 
leaders in all countries have achieved a great deal by moving up from the 
machine or bench to the union office, this shift has nowhere meant as 
much in terms of money and consequent style of life as in the United 
States. Most high status positions carry with them some security of tenure, 
but political positions in democratic societies are insecure by definition. 
Politicians in most countries may move from electoral defeat to highly 
paid positions in private industry or the professions, but union leaders 
customarily cannot do so. This means, as I have noted elsewhere, that 
they are under considerable pressure to find means to protect their source 
of status. Thus the greater the gap between the rewards of union leader- 
ship and of those jobs from which the leader came and to which he might 
return on defeat, the greater the pressure to eliminate democratic rights. 
Within the American labor movement itself those unions in which the 
gap between leaders and rank and file is narrow in income or in status 

40 Some indication of the extent of corruption may be found in a speech by 
George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO, in which, discussing the revela- 
tions of the Senate Committee, he commented: "We thought we knew a few 
things about trade union corruption, but we didn't know the half of it, one 
tenth of it, or the hundredth of it." Reported in the New York Times, 
November 2, 1957, and cited in Sylvester Petro, Power Unlimited (New 
York: Ronald Press, 1959), p. 146; and in Sidney Lens, The Crisis of Ameri- 
can Labor (New York: Sagamore Press, 1959), p. 105. On corruption in 
American unions, see also John Hutchinson, "Corruption in American 
Unions," Political Quarterly > 28 (1957), pp. 214-235; Harold Seidman, Labor 
Czars A History of Labor Racketeering (New York: Liveright, 1938); B. C. 
Roberts, Unions in America, pp. 59-73; Petro, op. cit. (above), especially 
pp. 144-181; and Lens, op. cit. (above), pp. 70-132. 

190 Stability in the Midst of Change 

seem to be much more democratic than those in which the gap is great 
Among the unions which fall in this former category are Actors' Equity, 
the American Newspaper Guild, and the International Typographical 
Union. 41 Thus the very forces which press for higher rewards of various 
types for American labor leaders also support and encourage greater 
restrictions on democratic politics in the unions. 

It may also be argued that in societies in which deferential values 
are strong, union leaders may maintain an oligarchic structure with less 
strain than is possible in America. And as I stated in an earlier essay: 

Given the assumption that leaders in both [continents] would seek 
to make their tenure secure, we would expect that American labor 
leaders would be under greater pressure to formalize dictatorial 
mechanisms so as to prevent the possibility of their being over- 
thrown. Or, to put it another way, since the values inherent in 
American society operate to make American union officers more 
vulnerable than, say, their German counterparts, they would be 
obliged to act more vigorously and decisively and dictatorially to 
stabilize their status. 42 

Some evidence that relatively elite societies are more willing to give 
tenure to union leaders may be found in Great Britain and Sweden, 
where the principal officers of many national unions are formally chosen 
for life. 43 Although similar commitments are much less common else- 
where, actual opposition to the re-election of national leaders is almost 
non-existent among most European unions. Lower level leaders and con- 
vention delegates may and often do oppose top leadership policies, but 
such opposition and even successful efforts to change policies by con- 
vention vote are rarely linked to an effort to replace the high-ranking 

The logic of the argument presented here is similar to that made by 
many foreign analysts of American stratification, who have suggested 

41 See Seymour Martin Lipset, Martin Trow, and James S. Coleman, Union 
Democracy (Glencoe, HI.: The Free Press, 1956). 

42 Seymour Martin Lipset, "The Political Process in Trade Unions," in Monroe 
Berger, Theodore Abel, and Charles Page, eds., "Freedom and Control in 
Modem Society (Princeton, NJ.: Van Nostrand, 1954), pp. 116-117. These 
two pages present my first efforts to suggest a relationship between societal 
values and variation in union structures. 

43 In Great Britain, 86 of 127 general secretaries of unions have permanent 
status. These unions cover 74 per cent of the total membership of the T.U.C. 
See V. L. Allen, Power in Trade Unicms (New York: Longmans, Green, 
1954), p. 215. On Sweden, see Galenson, The Danish System of Labor 
Relations, p. 74. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 191 

that precisely because of the antagonism to aristocratic values in the 
United States, upper-class Americans as contrasted with upper-class 
Europeans are more likely to be concerned with the social origins and 
social backgrounds of those with whom they associate at play, in clubs, 
in school, and so forth. Insecurity stemming from an equalitarian democ- 
racy's denial of permanent status, calls forth defensive reactions on the 
part of those who would preserve their positions. 

Perhaps even more important in affecting the varying quality of the 
internal political life of American and European unions is the difference 
in the sheer number and proportion of full-time officers. A recent ELO 
mission of European labor authorities studying American unions was 
impressed by "the number of paid posts at all levels of union organiza- 
tion," as contrasted with the much lower number in Europe. 44 The most 
recent available data for various countries are reported in Table IV. These 
indicate one officer for every 300 union members in the United States, 
while three of the northern European movements, those of Britain, 
Norway, and Sweden, have one officer for every 1,700 to 2,200 members. 
(Australia, which has one officer for every 900 members, will be dis- 
cussed together with Canada in a kter section.) 

In Britain, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, and many other European 
countries, lay union officers and committees, i.e., men working full time 
at their regular occupations while voluntarily performing union duties, 
carry out many of die tasks which are performed by full-time union 
executives and staff men in the United States. National officers clearly 
cannot have the same degree of control over ky subordinates which they 
have over paid officers whose tenure in, or advancement up, the union 
hierarchy usually depends on being in the good graces of the top leaders. 45 

^Report of a Mission from the International Labour Office, The Trade 
Union Situation in the United States (Geneva: 1960), p. 133. The Swedish 
economist and sociologist Gunnar Myrdal was startled by the differences 
between the size of American and European trade union bureaucracies. See 
his An American Dilemma (New York: Harper & Bros., 1944), p. 713. 
45 "There are strong, dominating personalities at the head of many Scandi- 
navian unions, but power tends to be vested in national committees, most of 
which include lay members. ... By all accounts, these rank-and-file men 
have strong local backing, and are quite capable of standing up to the perma- 
nent officers. . . . This pattern of the lay majority on executive boards is quite 
common in Scandinavia, and is regarded as an important contributor to union 
democracy." Galenson, Trade Union Democracy m Western Europe, pp. 

192 Stability in the Midst of Change 

Table IV 

Numbers and Proportions of Full-Time Union Officers in 
Various Countries 

Total union 

Total number 

ratio of officers 




to members 

United States 








Great Britain 












Sources: The American data, are from Eichard Lester, As Unions Mature (Princeton, 
N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1958), p. 116. The British data are based on an 
estimate by Hugh Clegg which is an extension of the materials presented in H. A. 
Clegg, A. J. Killick, and Rex Adams, Trade Union Officers (Oxford: Blackwell, 
1961), pp. 39, 94. These data, based on a detailed survey of most British unions, 
report 3flOO full-time officers, 2/00 national officers and 400 branch secretaries, for 
unions having a total membership of JJOOflOO in 1959. Earlier British estimates are 
reported in George Cyriax and Robert Oakeshott, The Bargainers: A Survey of 
Modern Trade Unionism (New York: New York University Press, I960), p. 133, 
and in B. C. Roberts, Trade-Union Government and Administration in Great 
Britain (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956}, p. 288* The Australian 
estimates were furnished by Dr. Tom Truman of the University of Queensland 
and 'were obtained from queries sent to union officials. The Norwegian data were 
gathered by Dr. Stein Rokkan of the Christen Michelsens Institute of Bergen and 
were supplied by the Norwegian L. O. (labor federation). The 240 Norwegians 
include ISO elected officers and 90 appointed ones. The Swedish materials were 
collected by Dr. Ingemar Lmdblad of the Swedish Royal Commission on Sound 
Broadcasting and 'were secured from officials of the Swedish L. O. Danish data 
were obtained from officers of Danish unions by Dr. Hennmg Friis of the Danish 
National Institute of Social Research. German data which suggest a pattern sim- 
ilar to the British one were collected by Professor Otto Stammer of the Free Uni- 
versity of Berlin. They are not presented here since it was not possible to obtain 
reports from most German unions. 

To some degree, those who serve as unpaid officers must be men with a 
sense of mission, who view the movement as something more than an 
"insurance policy" for personal success, and who expect their paid officers 
to adhere to the values of a social movement. Such lay leaders will 
clearly remain relatively close in social position and values to the rank 
and file. In large measure, the perpetuation of serious political debate 
within union movements such as the British, the Norwegian, or the 
Belgian reflects the fact that many lay leaders are drawn from the 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 193 

ranks of the more idealistic and politically motivated of the membership 
and are not on a union career ladder. 

In the United States, the large number of paid officials at all levels often 
means that union conventions are to a considerable extent meetings of 
the full-time local, district, and national leaders. Such meetings are much 
less likely to create trouble for the national officers than are meetings 
composed largely of men who are deeply involved in union matters, but 
who continue to work at their trade. The British Amalgamated Engineer- 
ing Union, one of the largest in the country, has a ky national com- 
mittee of fifty-two members which is authorized to give the full-time 
executive council "instructions for the ensuing year"; and B. C. Roberts 
comments that this "is precisely what it does, and it enforces its con- 
stitutional authority on a not always readily compliant executive council 
. . . [which] is not infrequently prevented from pursuing a wise policy 
by the powerful national committee,** In most British unions, "lay 
status, that is, holding of no full-time office in the union, and non-mem- 
bership on the executive council is generally necessary" to be a delegate 
to a national convention. 46 

Extensive lay involvement in union affairs does not, of course, prevent 
the paid officials from effectively controlling policy on most matters 
most of the time. An analysis of the voting on resolutions at nine British 
conventions during 1950-1952 indicated that the leaders were defeated 
on only 31 occasions out of 428 conference votes. 47 But in countries in 
which most of the secondary leadership are men who work at their trade, 
national executives are subject to more pressure to conform to con- 
ventional norms of morality and due process than when the lower 
echelons are paid union officers. 48 And even though British top union 

46 B. C. Roberts, Trade Union Government and Administration m Great 
Brhain (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956), p. 165. 

47 Ibid., p. 195. This figure may be more significant than it appears, since many, 
if not most, conference resolutions are noncontroversial. 

48 Hugh Clegg, "The Rights of British Trade-Union Members," in Michael 
Harrington and Paul Jacobs, eds., Labor in a Free Society (Berkeley: Uni- 
versity of California Press, 1959), pp. 133-134. Another interesting consequence 
of a high proportion of paid officials has been suggested by John Dunlop, in 
discussing the causes of jurisdictional disputes in die building trades unions in 
the United States. "The large number of paid union officials at the local level 
with direct supervision over members at job sites is a feature ... of workers' 
organizations in the United States system. 'Professionals' are available to ap- 
pear at job sites to draw fine lines of jurisdiction. National and local union 
rivalries are expressed at the work place because the machinery and manpower 

194 Stability in the Midst of Change 

officers, for example, usually remain in office as long as do the entrenched 
heads of American organizations, the practice of lay participation on all 
levels permits a greater part in decision-making by the rank-and-file 
activists, who become unpaid officers, committeemen, and delegates to 
conventions. Thus Hugh Clegg points to the fact that a major policy of 
the British unions, the decision made in 1948 to cooperate with the Labor 
Government's wage restraint policy, was reversed in 1950 "through the 
gradual process of branch votes and conference decisions in the individual 
unions. This took place without the wholesale replacement of trade- 
union executives and officers by opposition leaders. . . , 49 

The fact that union activists, in the form of lay officers and committee- 
men, have much more influence over the policy of national unions in 
Britain than in America does not necessarily mean that the British unions 
more accurately reflect the sentiment of their general membership. The 
activists are much more likely to be radical than either the rank-and-file 
membership as a whole or the national leadership. This was clearly shown 
in the case of the 1960 debate over unilateral disarmament. A national 
opinion survey conducted in September 1960, shortly before the Labor 
Party conference, reported that only 16 per cent of trade-union mem- 
bers favored the proposal that Britain unilaterally give up its nuclear 
weapons, the very policy which was backed by a majority of the delegates 
representing the trade unions; 83 per cent of rank-and-file union members 
expressed the opinion that Britain should retain such weapons until other 
powers agreed to disarm. 50 

Although it is relatively easy to suggest some of the effects of the 
variation in the proportion of full-time officers on trade-union govern- 
ment and behavior, it is much more difficult to explain the source of the 
variation. Some have suggested that it reflects differences in the income 

to express them on the job is available. In other countries . . . few full-time 
professionals are available to police the rules. . . . Left to themselves on the 
job site, the workers would engage in fewer and less severe disputes." John 
T. Dunlop, Industrial Relation Systems (New York: Holt, 1958), pp. 252-253. 

49 Clegg* "The Rights of British Trade-Union Members," op. cit., p. 138. 

50 The survey, which was conducted for the London Daily Herald, is reported 
in detail in Report on a Survey of Opinions Concerning Nuclear 'Disarmament 
(London: Odham's Press, 1960). A survey conducted about the same time by 
the British Gallup Poll bearing on the same issues, although wording its ques- 
tion differently, also reported relatively little support (24 per cent) among 
Labor voters for unilateral disarmament. (Gallup did not separate out trade- 
union members in his report.) The Gallup survey is reported in the Gallup 
Political Index, Report No. 9, September, 1960. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 195 

of labor organizations in Europe and America- While this factor un- 
doubtedly plays a role (though Swedish unions are quite well-to-do), 
the fact remains that American unions began the practice of employing 
full-time officers and staff members when many of the unions were weak 
and impoverished. In discussing the American labor movement, the 
Swedish sociologist and economist Gunnar Myrdal points out that the 
foreign observer "is struck by the importance played by salaried 
'organizers' and the relative unimportance of, or often the lack of, a 
spontaneous drive from the workers themselves." He suggests that this 
phenomenon reflects the general "passivity of the masses in America 
[which] is, of course, a product of the nation's history." Specifically, 
immigration produced cultural fragmentation and prevented strong in- 
terest-group identification, while a very high rate of social mobility 
drained the working class of its potential leaders. 51 

Although the factors which Myrdal cites may account in part for the 
relatively low level of "class consciousness" among American workers, 
they do not explain the apparent willingness from a very early period in 
trade-union history to pay leaders full-time salaries. As a further factor 
contributing to this policy, it may be suggested that inherent in the ideol- 
ogy of an equalitarian society like ours, as contrasted with those of coun- 
tries like Britain and Sweden in which aristocratic values remain signifi- 
cant, has been the principle that a man should be paid for his work. The 
conception that public or social service is performed best when a leader 
is not paid, or is paid an honorarium, is basically an aristocratic value 
linked to the concept of noblesse oblige. In Britain, for example, recent 
parliamentary discussions concerning the salaries of Members of Parlia- 
ment have explicitly assumed that M. P.'s should not be paid well, because 
it would be bad if men were attracted to a parliamentary career in order 
to better themselves economically. The inhibitions against employing a 
large number of officials permeate most voluntary associations in the Eu- 
ropean nations and reflect the historic assumption that such activities 
should be the "charities" of the privileged classes. The absence of a model 
of noblesse oblige in an equalitarian society fostered the American belief 
that such voluntary associations, whether they be the "March of Dimes," 
social work agencies, or trade unions, should be staffed by men who are 
paid to do the job. In a sense, therefore, it may be argued that the very 
emphasis on equalitarianism in America has given rise to the large salaried 
bureaucracies which permeate voluntary organizations. 

51 Myrdal, The American Dile7nma y pp. 71 -714, 

196 Stability in the Midst of Change 

In presenting this hypothesis, I do not mean to suggest that historic 
differences in ultimate values themselves account for the perpetuation and 
extension of the varying patterns down to the present. Rather, the dif- 
ferent values in Europe and America helped to initiate differing early 
models of behavior, which became institutionalized within varying social 
structures. The European practice fostered and in turn has been sus- 
tained by the ideologies, mainly socialist, which the various labor move- 
ments adopted. Conversely, in the United States the establishment of the 
union career ladder made union leaders receptive to incorporating the 
society's achievement norms into the ideology and practice of the move- 
ment, and these norms supported further extension of the practice of 
maintaining a large and well-paid bureaucracy and leadership core. 

The American Political System and the Union Movement 

The difference between the American labor movement and those in 
other modern industrial countries cannot be attributed solely to the direct 
effect of American values on its ideology. The greater authority and 
power centered in the hands of American national union presidents, as 
compared with European leaders, 52 may also be viewed as an outgrowth 
of the role of the executive and of federalism in American politics. 63 

As a result of its history and size, the United States has adopted two 
distinct political institutions, the presidential system and the federal sys- 
tem. Our principal elections at the national, state, and local levels are for 
one man the president, governor, or mayor. Government is largely 
viewed as the government of the man who holds the key executive office. 
His cabinet is responsible to him, not to his party nor to parliamentary 
colleagues. Hence there is an emphasis on personality and a relative de- 

62 The English labor authority B. C. Roberts has commented, "Once elected, 
the power of an American union president generally far exceeds that of any 
officer of British or Scandinavian unions." Unions in America, p. 36; see also 
Cyriax and Oakeshott, The Bargainers, p. 79; Walter Galenson, ed., Compara- 
tive Labor Movements (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1952), p. 121; and Leo 
Bromwich, Union Constitutions (New York: Fund for the Republic, 1959), 
p. 38. 

53 American collective bargaining "is perhaps the most decentralized in the 
world. 5 * Ross and Hartman, Changing Patterns of Industrial Conflict, p. 166. 
See also the ILO Mission Report, The Trade Union Situation . . . , pp. 24-25; 
Neil Chamberlain, "Collective Bargaining in the United States," in Adolf 
Sturmthal, ed., Contemporary Collective Bargaining in Seven Countries, p. 259; 
Roberts, Unions m America, p. 78; Lester, As Unions Mature, pp. 23-26. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 197 

emphasis of party or principles. These factors, which have become nor- 
mative elements in the political sphere, undoubtedly affect the way in 
which other institutions, such as unions, operate. 

The federal system, with its relatively strong local government institu- 
tions, has also affected the logic and organization of trade unions, since 
many of them are involved in various kinds of relations with the centers 
of political power. If political power for certain major purposes rests on 
the level of the municipality, this means that unions too must be able to 
deal with local officials. But probably at least as important as this struc- 
tural parallelism is the fact that federalism and local self-government have 
facilitated the maintenance of strong norms of local and regional solidar- 
ity and consciousness of difference from other parts of the nation. Business 
power, also, is comparatively decentralized in the United States. The 
norms support the institutionalization of competition; this is reflected in 
the early passage of anti-trust laws and other legislation against unfair 
restraint of trade. Unions have to deal not only with local political power 
but with local business power as well. And business groups in various 
parts of the country often follow different strategies. 54 

The decentralization of authority may be rekted to other aspects of 
union behavior discussed earlier. There are fewer organizational restric- 
tions on union militancy when authority is decentralized. National agree- 
ments require centralization of union authority and inhibit locally called 
strikes. Hence American union militancy may be partly a reflection of the 
prevalence of local agreements, which, as we have seen, may be regarded 
as an indirect consequence of the overreaching value system. 

The militancy of American unions, which has been derived from at- 
tributes and consequences of these basic values, may in turn be one of the 
major factors contributing to the pattern of innovation which character- 
izes the economy. The editors of the London Economist have suggested 
that the historic propensity of American unions to demand "more" forces 
employers to find ways to resolve their dilemma by improving produc- 

54 The ILO Mission points out in the conclusion of its report (p. 146) : "Much 
has been said in this report about the different conditions for trade union 
activity which are found in different parts of the country. . . . The 
general public attitude towards trade unions may vary from one state, city 
or locality to another. Relations with the employers vary in the same way. The 
relations between the unions and a company may not be the same in all the 
company's plants in different areas. Unions which are accepted in certain 
industries in some parts of the country may be opposed in the same industries 
in other parts." 

198 Stability in the Midst of Change 

tivity. 55 "Thus, there is generated a constant force pushing the employer 
into installing more labor-saving equipment, into reducing costs in other 
directions." 56 European unions with their involvement in making national 
contracts and with their regard for the over-all needs of the polity and 
economy concerns which seem in some measure to stem from their po- 
litical commitments are less inclined to make "irresponsible" demands or 
to insist on policies which will adversely affect a sizable part of an indus- 
try. Decentralized collective bargaining is in part an outgrowth of a dy- 
namic economy in which different portions are advancing at varying 
rates, and in part a cause of that very dynamism. 

Decentralization of power also facilitates corruption. Corruption in 
American unions and other institutions is more prevalent on the local 
than on the national level. Where lower level officials such as union busi- 
ness agents or municipal inspectors deal direcdy with businessmen, the 
possibilities of undetected corruption are much greater than they are in 
relations among the heads of major organizations. 

Political decentralization and strong local governments, as Tocqueville 
noted well over a century ago, strongly reinforce the norms of individ- 
ualism. Americans are encouraged to press for their objectives through 
individual or organized group action, not to accept their lot or to hope 
for remedy from an established upper class or a strong central govern- 
ment. Over time, of course, changes in technology and the nature of so- 
cial problems have led to increasing centralization of power within gov- 
ernment, business, and kbor. But it still remains true that, on a compara- 
tive scale, American institutions remain decentralized and local units retain 
considerable autonomy. Hence one has here another example of inter- 
related supports and consequences of the dominant value system. 

Within the kbor movement, the emphasis on strong local organizations 
has, in turn, facilitated the creation of the large numbers of full-time 
union positions referred to earlier. Thus in its decentralization, as in its 

* 5 Wffl Herberg, "When Social Scientists View Labor," Commentary, 11 
(1951), p. 593. 

56 Roberts, Unions m America, p. 102. Stunner Slichter pointed to this phenom- 
enon even earlier: "[T]he tendency for collective bargaining to accelerate 
technological discovery is undoubtedly one of its most useful effects. . . ." 
The Challenge of Industrial Relations (Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 
1947), pp. 90-91. American union pressure to raise wages has been a major 
force "goading management into technical improvement and increased capital 
investment." Sidney Sufrin, Union Wages and Labor's Earnings (Syracuse, 
N. Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1950), p. 86; see also p. 51. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 199 

conservative politics and militant strike tactics, the American union may 
be viewed as an outgrowth of the American social and American value 

Other Equalitarian Societies: Canada and Australia 

In contrasting the labor movements in the various nations in the in- 
dustrialized democracies' "culture area," I have largely ignored those of 
Canada and Australia. Both nations, like the United States, are out- 
growths of the settlement of a relatively vacant frontier. There is general 
agreement that these two nations, along with the United States, are 
among the most equalitarian in their basic values. 

However, as will be detailed in Chapter 7, while Canada, Australia, and 
the United States have value systems that are relatively similar as com- 
pared to other Western industrial nations, they differ significantly among 
themselves. Australia has been perceived as an even more equalitarian 
society than the United States* According to various interpreters of 
Canadian culture, Canada is somewhat less egalitarian, less achievement 
oriented, and less individualistic than the United States. Australia, on the 
other hand, seems to be even more anti-elitist in its basic values than the 
United States, but the values of a universalized individualism seem 
weaker, particularly among workers. 

Given their strong similarities in basic values when contrasted with Old 
World societies, the three large, predominantly English-speaking overseas 
democracies also fulfill the expectations of having similarly structured 
labor movements. For example, these three extremely wealthy nations 
"have led the world in working days lost through [labor] disputes." 57 
Over four decades ago, James Bryce explained the militancy of Australian 
labor as derivative from Australia's equalitarian emphasis, using much the 
same logic as has been used by such sociologists as Robert Merton to ex- 
plain the propensity of Americans to engage in innovating or illegitimate 
actions in order to succeed: 

Neither social equality nor the standard of comfort much above 
that of England, which the workers enjoy, has softened the clash 
of economic interests ... it is hardly a paradox to say that the more 
the condition of the wage-earners rises, the more does their dis- 
satisfaction also rise. . . . Where other distinctions are absent, and 

57 Clegg, A New Approach to Industrial Democracy, p. 26; see also Ross and 
Hartman, Changing Patterns of Industrial Conflict, pp. 161-162. 

200 Stability in the Midst of Change 

a few years can lift a man from nothing to affluence, differences in 
wealth are emphasized and resented, deemed the more unjust be- 
cause they often seem the result of chance, or at least of causes due 
to no special merit in their possessor. 58 

Most continental and British unions favor works councils or joint consul- 
tation in industry, while Australian, American, and Canadian unions are 
either opposed to, or uninterested in, such institutions. 'What cannot be 
handled by a trade union and written into a collective agreement, had, 
in their eyes, better be left alone." 59 As in the United States, "collective 
bargaining . . - is not really very centralized." 60 The union movements of 
all three nations also tend to be legalistic and highly dependent on "labor 
lawyers," a category which hardly exists in Great Britain. 61 As compared 
with European unions, the Canadian and Australian unions, though linked 
to labor or socialist parries, show less of a sense of responsibility for the 
needs of the polity. 62 There is also some evidence that Australian and, to 
a lesser extent, Canadian union leaders have resembled American ones in 
their efforts to subvert the processes of organizational democracy in so 
far as these affect opposition efforts to defeat incumbent administrations. 
The three national union movements, which not only are influenced by 

58 James Bryce, Modern Democracies (London, Macmillan, 1921), Vol. II, p, 
273. And as in the United States, Bryce reports that the Australians are too 
easy-going in dealing with the successful who achieve their position by cor- 
rupt means: "[Mjany of their statesmen have through long and chequered 
careers retained the loyalty of the masses . . . their indulgent temper is apt to 
forget misdeeds which ought to have permanently discredited an offender. . . . 
Tergiversation, and still more severely pecuniary corruption, are censured at 
the time, yet such sins are soon covered by the charitable sentiment that 
*bygones are bygones.' " Ibid., pp. 276-277. 
58 Qegg, A New Approach to Industrial Democracy, p. 26. 
60 Ross and Hartman, Changing Patterns of Industrial Conflict, pp. 146, 166. 
61 A comparison of the legal profession in England and the U. S. reports: 
"[T]he English lawyer plays a far less important role in collective bargaining 
between employers and labour and in industrial relations generally. In the 
States this is an important and lucrative branch of legal practice; in England 
lawyers have been almost totally excluded from the field." L. C, B. Gower and 
Leolin Price, "The Profession and Practice of the Law in England and Amer- 
ica," Modern Law Review, 20 (1957), p. 327, For a discussion of the role of 
law and lawyers in affecting union patterns in the United States, see S. M. 
Upset, "The Law and Trade Union Democracy,'* Virginia Law Review, 47 
(1961), pp. 1-50. 

62 See D. W. Rawson, "Politics and Responsibility in Australian Trade Un- 
ions," Australian Journal of Politics and History, 4 (1958), pp. 224-243. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 201 

similar national values but operate within continental, federal political 
systems, resemble each other too in having relatively decentralized na- 
tional unions as compared to those of northern Europe. They also have 
extremely weak central federations. Canadian policy in these matters has 
been akin to the American, while the Australians have been even more 
decentralized. The main unit of an Australian union is the state organiza- 
tion, not the national body; a permanent national federation of Australian 
unions, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, was not established until 
1927. 63 The central state federation of one state, Western Australia, re- 
mained outside of the ACTU until 1949, and the largest single union in 
the country, the Australian Workers Union with 200,000 members, has 
never affiliated. 

In many other aspects of their behavior, Australia and Canada tend to 
behave in ways which put them intermediate between the United States 
and Britain or the countries of northern Europe. Thus the best available 
estimates of the total number of paid full-time officers, presented in Table 
IV above, indicate that Australia has approximately one official for every 
900 members, Britain, one for 2,000, and the United States, one for 300. 
No reliable estimate exists for Canada, but the guess of some Canadian 
union leaders is that it would be somewhat closer to the United States 
than to the Australian figure. 

With respect to officers' salaries and other perquisites, the picture is 
similar, although it is difficult to formulate a conclusive judgment with 
regard to Canadian unions, most of which are affiliates of American ones 
and have their salary schedules determined in some part by the pattern 
set by the international organization. In Australia the bulk of union of- 
ficials receive relatively low salaries compared to those in North Amer- 
ica, but their incomes are higher than those of British or northern Euro- 
pean officials. Union officers in Australia estimate that the average sala- 
ries for the secretaries of state unions, usually the highest full-time posts, 
are between 1,200 and 1,600 pounds, while the average worker's annual 
income is about 750 pounds. Where information is public, as it is for 
unions which have secured awards on officers' salaries from the Arbitra- 
tion Court, secretaries' salaries are known to be 2,000 pounds a year. The 
Australian Workers Union, which is a general union of laborers and which 
has close to 10 per cent of the total national union membership, seems to 
operate on American standards. Its general secretary receives 4,500 pounds 

63 See Lloyd M. Ross, "Trade Unionism" in AustraLim Encyclopedia (East 
Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1958) VoL 9, p. 9. 

202 Stability in the Midst of Change 

a year plus a 600 pound tax-free allowance for expenses. In addition to 
this regular income, the union gives him a traveling allowance of five 
pounds a day, the use of an automobile together with its operating costs, 
long-service leave worth 6,000 pounds on retirement, an insurance policy 
subsidized by union funds, and a loan of 6,000 pounds at 1 per cent inter- 
est to purchase a home. 64 

There seems to be much less corruption among union officials in Aus- 
tralia and Canada, as compared with the United States. 65 However, Eng- 
lish visitors to Australia are struck with the extent to which they "will 
put up with boss-rule and corruption in trade-unions." 66 On the whole, 
kbor groups in both Canada and Australia would appear to be less law- 
abiding than similar organizations in northern Europe and Britain. Aus- 
tralian unions "can reduce the law, or parts of the law, to impotence. 
Practically every strike of any size in Australia is illegal, yet the Australian 
record of man-days lost per head since the war is challenged only by the 
United States." 67 In Canada, as compared with the United States, "there 
has generally been less violent conflict between workers and employers. 
Professional strikebreakers, kbor spies, 'goon squads,' 'vigilante' groups, 
armed militia, and other spectacular features of industrial warfare in die 
United States in previous decades have been absent from the Canadian 
scene again with several notable exceptions. 68 

Many differences among these three nations are analyzed in detail kter, 
and they will not be pursued further here. It does seem appropriate, 
however, to call attention to the fact that individually Canada, Aus- 
tralia, and the United States may each be contrasted with most, if 
not all, of the industrial democracies of northwestern Europe in terms 
of differences in value orientation, and that in most respects the dif- 
ferences between the behavior of their individual labor movements and 
those of Europe fit the assumptions made here about the consequences of 
varying national value systems and social structures on trade-union 
behavior. 69 

64 1 am indebted to Dr. Tom Truman of the University of Queensland for 
gathering these data. The materials on the Australian Workers Union are 
taken from Voice, the organ of the Council for Membership Control. 
65 Lester, As Unions Mature, p. 62. 

M Jeanne Mackenzie, Australian Paradox (London: Macgibbon and Kee, 1962), 
p. 164. 

67 Clegg, A New Approach to Industrial Democracy, p. 22, 

68 Jamieson, Industrial Relations in Canada, p. 7. 

60 Other reasons accounting for the number of strikes in the three countries 
are presented in Ross and Hartman, Changing Patterns of Ijidustrlal Conflict, 
pp. 141-151, 161-170. 

Trade Unions and the American Value System 203 


The basic values equality and achievement that America acquired 
from its Revolutionary and Puritan origins have continued to shape 
American institutions. From early in their histories to the present day, 
many of the unique features in American institutions may be attributed 
to them. 

Thus the American kbor movement has been less class conscious and 
more militant than those in European countries where there is less 
emphasis on individual achievement and equalitj/. Since the American 
emphasis has been upon individual responsibility 'for success or failure, 
the American worker has not seen himself as a member of a class. He has 
felt his lower status as a persoaaLaffrontjyhile he has felt that his attempts 
to better himself, collectively as well as individually, were legitimate. 
As a result there have been pressures, unchecked by traditional deference 
relations between classes, to support aggressive union action. 

While the principle of equality has thus extended pressures to succeed 
to all members of the society, regardless of class, ttje.sfless on ^achieve- 
ment has^^ed.iaeq^aB&es. The difference between the income and 
status of union leaders and the union rank and file is but one example 
of the way in which the stress on both equality and achievement may 
bring about institutional features that appear contradictory to one an- 

The ability of American trade unionists calmly to accept such a paradox 
may be partially explained by the fact that labor unions, like other 
American associations, tend to play a specific rather than diffuse role in 
the lives of their members. From time to time union leaders have espoused 
radical class conscious ideologies, but the members generally have not 
followed them. Rather they have viewed the union as a means 6F 
specifically improving their wages and working conditions, rather than as 
a means of raising them from their generally c *lowly status."; These 
ideologies did not convince them that they were part of an under- 
privileged class, because they believed that, as individuals, they had as 
good a chance as anyone else. 

The paradox of ideological conservatism and militant tactics parallels, 
to some extent, the paradox that American society is, at the same time, one 
of the most religious (moral) and one of the most secular (materialistic) 
societies in the world. Both paradoxes are made possible by the specificity 
of therolethat these two institutions play in American society. Thus, bodf 
the church and the trade union are allowed to express generalizations 
that people do not necessarily accept because they judge religious and 

204 Stability in the Midst of Change 

trade union institutions in terms of their specific roles rather than their 
ideologies. But whereas, in the area of religion, this has simply meant t&at 
Americans limit the degree to which religious principles govern their 
daily lives, it has deeply affected the structure of the labor movement. 

Democracy has divorced religion from political power, and made the 
organization of its Protestant sects democratic. It is antagonistic to the 
self-righteous concept of "the elect" in Calvinism. As such, democracy 
has made religious institutions an inappropriate place to satisfy the in- 
dTviduaTs ambition to succeed!! On die other hand, trade unions deal 
with money and power, both of which provide very tangible evidence 
of where one stands in relation to others. In a sense, trade unions represent 
an organized attempt to achieve individual equality and as such they are 
permeated by the peculiarly American characteristic, the pressure to 

Much of the behavior which we deplore in the American labor move- 
ment is the expression of the tension inherent in valuing both equality 
and achievement. The American trade union, like the American church, 
behaves in ways which often displease those whose institutional model is 
of European origin. True believers in one area desire militant class con- 
sciousness and honest unionism, just as, in the other, they desire devout, 
theologically serious religion with a high level of participation in ob- 
servances. America gives them some traits which they lite, combined 
with some which they dislike. But such contradictions are seemingly in- 
herent in complex social structures. To illustrate the way in which the 
differing value systems of all societies, resulting from variations in 
history, produce comparable structural paradoxes, the next section of 
this book turns to a more detailed examination of comparative social 






Values and 




*********** A* A****************** A A** A AA A A*A* A 

Parts I and II of this study examined how the United States produced 
a particular set of "structured predispositions," which is one way of 
defining values, for handling strains generated by social change. These 
predispositions have affected the status system, the "American character," 
the pattern of American religion, and tie development of class interests 
among the workers. The effort has been to demonstrate that American 
status concerns, "other-directedness," religious participation, church or- 
ganization, kbor union structure, and the like, differed from those of 
other nations because of our distinctive value system. Within self- 
imposed limitations, this has represented an effort to present an integrated 
view of American society. Only in the treatment of trade-union behavior 
did the analysis move toward an attempt also to explain behavior in other 

In this concluding section of the book, I turn from a concentration 
on the United States to comparative analysis of a given institutional 
structure the organization of democratic polities. 1 In a sense, the dis- 

*! have dealt with sach problems in preceding publications. Thus Political 
Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960) is 
addressed to an analysis of the relationship between stages or degrees of eco- 
nomic development and political systems, and to the effect of varying types 
of legitimacy on die intensity of conflict within political systems. Union De- 
mocracy 9 with Martin Trow and James Coleman (Glencoe, DDL: The Free 
Press, 1956) and Agrarian Socialism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 

208 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

cussion here represents a further effort to illustrate the worth of the 
preceding analyses of American society by a systematic presentation of 
the way American institutions differ from those of other nations with 
varying value systems. It represents an effort to extend the type of value 
analysis employed in preceding chapters to locate some of the sources 
of variation among a number of national polities, including the American. 
However, it should be obvious that institutions and reactions cannot be 
derived soley or even primarily from the basic value systems; and, as one 
illustration of the way in which specific legal enactments may influence 
the course of nations, I turn in the final chapter of this section to a discus- 
sion of the processes through which the varying structure of the polity 
may itself affect the form and stability of the political system. 

Since I have attempted elsewhere to elaborate a sociologically meaning- 
ful definition of a democratic system, I do not want to repeat these 
discussions here. 2 Essentially, I have urged the view that realistically the 
distinctive and most valuable element of democracy in complex societies 
is the formation of a political elite in the competitive struggle for the 
votes of a mainly passive electorate. This definition is premised on the 
common assumption that democracy means a system in which those out- 
side of the formal authority structure are able significantly to influence 
the basic direction of policy. If the citizenry as a whole are to have access 
to decisions, there must be a meaningful competitive struggle within the 
political elite which leads factions within this elite to look for generalized 
as well as specific support. But the political elite can be leaders and 
representatives only if there are mechanisms within the culture which 
foster the kinds of personal motivations that lead men to perceive and 
strongly support their interests within a political system which has rela- 
tively well-defined rules. Mechanisms that undermine the democratic 
rules or whifeh inhibit institutionalized conflict are destructive of democ- 
racy, in that they restrict the general population's access to, or power 
over, key societal decisions. Hence it is necessary to look for factors 
which, on the one hand, sustain the separation of the political system 
from the excesses inherent in the populist assumptions of democracy 

1950) dealt with the ways in which variation in the number and type of sec- 
ondary organizations mediate between the population and the government 
and thus affect the conditions for democracy or dictatorship. 
2 See Political Man, pp. 21-41 and 45-48; and my Introduction to a new 
paperback edition of Robert Michels, Political Parties (New York: Collier 
Books, 1962), pp. 15-39, especially pp. 33-38. 

Values and Democratic Stability 209 

the belief that the majority will is always sovereign and, on the other, 
encourage participation in organizations that conflict with one another 
and with state agencies concerning the direction of public policy on all 
major issues. 

Earlier I argued that the effects of American values on the American 
labor movement could best be specified by comparing that movement 
with those in countries at relatively similar levels of development. The 
same argument applies to any attempt systematically to examine the way 
in which a nation's values affect its polity. 

Value Patterns and a Democratic Polity 

To compare national value systems, we must be able to classify them 
and distinguish among them. Talcott Parsons has provided a useful tool 
for this purpose in his concept of "pattern variables." These were 
originally developed by Parsons as an extension of the classic distinction 
by Ferdinand Tonnies between "community" and "society" between 
those systems which emphasized Gemeinschaft (primary, small, tradi- 
tional, integrated) values, and those which stressed Gesettschaft (im- 
personal, secondary, large, socially differentiated) values. 3 The pattern 
variables to be used in the following analysis are achievement-ascription, 
universalism-particidarism, and specificity-diffuseness. According to the 
achievement-ascription distinction, a society's value system may emphasize 
individual ability or performance or it may emphasize ascribed or inherited 
qualities (such as race or high birth) in judging individuals and placing 
them in various roles. According to the \iniversalism-particularism distinc- 
tion, it may emphasize that all people shall be treated according to the 
same standard (e.g., equality before the law), or that individuals shall be 
treated differently according to their personal qualities or their particular 
membership in a class or group. Specificity-diffuseness refers to the 
difference between treating individuals in terms of the specific positions 

3 Ferdinand Tonnies, Community and Society, Gememschaft und Gesellschaft 
(East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1957). A somewhat more 
complex specification of the component dements of these two concepts may 
be found in Charles P. Looxnis, Social Systems: Essays on Their Persistence 
and Change (Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand, 1961), especially pp. 57-63. 
The pattern variables may also be seen as derived from Max Weber's types 
of social action, especially the traditional and the instrumentally rational. See 
Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1947), pp, 115-118. 

210 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

which they happen to occupy, rather than diffusely as individual mem- 
bers of the collectivity. 4 

The pattern variables provide us with a much more sensitive way of 
classifying values than the older polar concepts of sociology, such as the 
folk-urban, mechanical-organic, primary-secondary, or Gemeinschaft- 
Gesellschaft, etc. For instance, they make it possible for us to establish 
differences in value structures between two nations that are at the same 
end of the Gememschaft-Gesellschaft continuum, or are at similar levels 
of economic development or social complexity. They are also useful 
for describing differences within a society. Thus the family is inherently 
ascriptive and particularistic while the market is universalistic and achieve- 
ment oriented the weaker the kinship ties in a given society, the 
greater the national emphasis on achievement is likely to be. 

The manner in which any set of values is introduced will obviously 
affect the way the values are incorporated into a nation's institutions. In 
France, for instance, where the values of universalism, achievement, and 
specificity were introduced primarily through a political revolution, we 
would expect to find them most prominent in the political institutions; 
in Germany, where they have been introduced primarily through in- 
dustrialization, we would expect to find them most prominent in its eco- 
nomic institutions. The American example suggests that for democratic 
values to become legitimate in a post-revolutionary polity the norms of 
universalism, achievement, and specificity must be introduced into its 
economic institutions as well. This fosters rapid economic development, 
and encourages the underprivileged to believe that they as individuals 
may personally improve their status. 5 

4 Parsons has two other pattern variables which I ignore here, largely for 
reasons of parsimony: affecrivity-affective neutrality, and the instrumental- 
consommatory distinction. A third set -elf-orientationr-collectivity-orientation 
is discussed briefly toward the end of Chapter 7. For a detailed presentation 
of the pattern variables, see Talcott Parsons, The Social System (Glencoe, DL: 
The Free Press, 1951), pp. 58-<57. Parsons* most recent elaboration of the 
relationship of pattern variable analysis to other elements in his conceptual 
framework is "Pattern Variables Revisited," American Sociological Review, 
25 (1960), pp. 467-483; see also his article, "The Point of View of the 
Author," in Max Black, ed^ The Social Theories of Talcott Parsons (Engle- 
wood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1961), pp. 319-320, 329-336. 

5 Karl W. Deutsch, S. A. Burrell, R. A. Kann, M. Lee, Jr., M. Lichterman, 
R. E. Undgren, F. L. Loewenheim, R. W. Van Wagenen, Political Com- 
mumty and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University 
Press, 1957). 

Values and Democratic Stability 211 

I shall add the equaKtarian-elitist distinction to the pattern variables 
just outlined. According to this, a society's values may stress that all 
persons must be given respect simply because they are human beings, or 
it may stress the general superiority of those who hold positions of power 
and privilege. In an equalitarian society, the differences between low 
status and high status people are not stressed in social relationships and 
do not convey to the high status person a general claim to social deference. 
In contrast, in an elitist society, those who hold high positions in any 
structure, whether it be in business, in intellectual activities, or in govern- 
ment, are thought to deserve, and are actually given, general respect and 
deference. 6 All ascriptively oriented societies are necessarily also elitist in 
this use of the term* On the other hand, achievement orientation and 
egalitarianism are not necessarily highly correlated, since a stress on 
achievement is not incompatible with giving generalized deference to all 
who have achieved their elite positions. To a considerable degree societies 
which are in the process of changing from an emphasis on ascription to 
one on achievement seem disposed, as we shall see later, to retain their 
elitist orientations and institutions when contrasted with societies in 
which ascriptive values have never had a preeminent role. 

In actual fact, no society is ever fully explicable by these analytic 
concepts, nor does the theory even contemplate the possible existence of 
such a society J Every society incorporates some aspect of each polarity. 

6 Although all four polarity distinctions are important to the analysis of die 
political system, ascriprionr-achievement and univei^alism-particularism seem 
more important than the other two. As Parsons has suggested, these are the 
variables which have the most reference to the total social system, rather 
than to subparts or to the motivation of individuals, "They are concerned 
. . . with the type of value-norms which enter into the structure of the social 
system." Combinations of these pairs are also most useful to help account for 
"structural differentiation and variability of social systems." See Parsons, The 
Social System, p. 106. The other two pairs, specificity-diffuseness and equali- 
tarianism-elitism, are to a considerable degree dependent on the particular 
combinations of the first two. 

7 As Parsons has put it: "In a very broad way the differentiations between 
types of social systems do correspond to this order of cultural value pattern 
differentiation, but only in a very broad way. Actual social structures are not 
value-pattern types, but resultants of the integration of value-patterns with 
the other components of the system." Ibid., p. 112. (Emphases in the original.) 
Gabriel Almond has criticized the utility of pattern-variable analysis for the 
study of comparative politics on the grounds that it results in exaggerations 
of the differences among political systems, particularly between Western and 
non-Western and primitive ones. He argues that "all political systems the 

212 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

We may, however, differentiate among social structures by the extent 
to which they emphasize one or another of these polarities. 8 It should be 
added that classifications of the relative emphases among nations with 
respect to certain value polarities do not imply that such values are either 
prescriptive or descriptive of actual behavior. Rather, they are intended 
to provide base lines for comparative analysis. 

I have chosen to discuss the United States, Great Britain, Canada, 
Australia, France, and Germany to illustrate the relationship between 
values and the stability of democratic political systems. 9 These nations 
are all relatively industrialized, all have capitalist or mixed economies, 
and the religious traditions of all can be traced back to the same Hebraic- 
Christian source. They all have democratic political systems. Yet they 

developed Western ones as well as the less-developed non-Western ones are 
transitional systems in which cultural change is taking place." Thus they 
both include elements of each polarity of the pattern variables in many of 
their institutions. See Gabriel Almond, "Introduction: A Functional Approach 
to Comparative Politics," in Gabriel Almond and James S. Coleman, eds., 
The Politics of Developing Areas (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University 
Press, 1960), pp. 20-25. This criticism is useful if it is considered as a warn- 
ing against reifying these concepts, or tending to exaggerate the integrated 
character of societies, whether large or small. However, there is no reason 
why use of the pattern variables for analytic purposes need fall into these 
errors, and Parsons himself repeatedly stresses that systems and structures are 
never wholly one. 

A detailed criticism of Parsons' analysis of politics, which, however, does 
not touch on the concepts dealt with here may be found in Andrew Hacker, 
"Sociology and Ideology," in Max Black, ed., The Social Theories of Tdcott 
Parsons (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, 1961) pp. 289-310. 

8 It is important to note also that the pattern variables can be and have been 
used to distinguish among and within different orders of social systems or 
structures. Thus we may characterize total epochs (feudalism compared to 
capitalism), whole nations (the United States compared to Britain), subsystems 
within nations that logically may operate with different combinations of the 
variables (the state, or industry), subsystems within nations that logically must 
follow a specific set of pattern variables (the family), and subsystems within 
which there is conflict between different pattern variables (e.g., the French 
business system, to be discussed later). 

9 There have been other efforts at using the pattern variables for political 
analysis. For the most part, however, they do so in the context of specifying 
differences between Western and agrarian societies and hence posit ideal 
types of integrated Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft cultures. A paper which 
does attempt to use the variables to analyze contemporary differences is Wil- 
liam Evan, "Social Structure, Trade Unionism, and Consumer Cooperation," 
Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 10 (1957), pp. 440-447. 

Values and Democratic Stability 213 

differ in one important respect: the United States, Britain, Canada, and 
Australia have stable polities, while France and Germany have (or have 
had) unstable ones. The prime empirical focus in this chapter is on the 
four most populous countries; the two overseas dominions of the British 
Crown are contrasted with the United States and Britain in the next 

The United States and Great Britain 

Though the United States and Great Britain are both urbanized, 
industrialized, and stable politically, they are integrated around different 
values and class relations. Tocqueville's Democracy in America and 
Bagehot's The English Constitution accurately specified these different 
organizing principles. According to Tocqueville, American democratic 
society was equalitarian and competitive (achievement oriented); ac- 
cording to Bagehot, Britain was deferential (elitist) and ascriptive. As 
both Tocqueville and Bagehot indicated, a society in which the historic 
ties of traditional legitimacy had been forcibly broken could sustain 
a stable democratic polity only if it emphasized equality and if it con- 
tained strong, independent, and competitive institutions. Conversely, if 
the privileged classes persisted and continued to expect ascriptive (aris- 
tocratic) and elitist rights, a society could have a stable democratic 
system only if the lower classes accepted the status system. These dif- 
ferences will be explored in more detail subsequently. Suffice it to say now 
that a stable democracy can result from different combinations of pat- 
tern variables. 

The United States, more than any other modem non-Communist 
industrial nation, emphasizes achievement, equalitarianism, universalism, 
and specificity. 10 These four tend to be mutually supportive. This does 
not mean that other stable combinations are not possible or that the 
"American" combination does not exhibit tensions. From the perspective 
of the polity, however, this combination of variables does encourage 

10 For a discussion of the American value system, see Robin Williams, Ameri- 
can Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951), pp. 372-442; see also 
Talcott Parsons and Winston White, "The Link Between Character and 
Society," in S. M. Lipset and Leo Lowenthal, eds., Culture and Social Char- 
acter (New York: The Free Press, 1961), pp. 98-103; on values and the 
political system see William Mitchell, The American Polity (New York; 
The Free Press, 1963). I devote less space here to elaborating on American 
values than on those of die other nations, since I have already dealt with 
them in detail in the earlier chapters of this book. 

214 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

stable democracy. The upper classes can accept improvements in the 
status and power of the lower strata without feeling morally offended. 
Since all men and groups are expected to try to improve their position 
vis ci vis others, success by a previously deprived group is not resented 
as deeply as in countries whose values stress the moral worth of 
ascription. 11 Similarly, the emphasis on equalitarianism, universalism, and 
specificity means that men can expect and within limits do receive 
fair treatment according to the merits of the case or their ability. Lower- 
class individuals and groups which desire to change their social position 
need not be revolutionary; consequently their political goals and methods 
are relatively moderate. There is little class consciousness on their part, 
since this consciousness is in part an adaptation to the behavior of the 
upper class in those societies characterized by ascription, elitism, par- 
ticularism, and difFuseness. The latter values imply that men will be 
treated by others and will treat each other diffusely in terms of class 
status. American values support interaction with an individual in terms 
of his role as worker in one situation, as suburban dweller in another, as a 
member of the American Legion in a third, and so forth. 

The above comments are, of course, an oversimplification. In fact, 
American society does display ascriptive, elitist, particularistic, and 
diffuse culture traits. These are not completely dysfunctional, as will 
be shown. They do create frictions (see the analyses of McCarthyism 
as a reaction to "status-panic"), 12 but in general, with the exception of 
race and ethnic relations, these have not affected the basic stability of 
the polity. 

The American South, which has stressed ascriptive-elitist-particularis- 
tic-diffuse values in race relations and to some extent in its total social 
system, has constituted a major source of instability in the American 
polity. It was retained in the nation only by force, and down to the 
present it does not have a stable, democratic polity. To the extent that 
its citizens have felt the pull of the dominant value system, the South 

11 Like all comparative generalizations, this is a relative rather than an 
absolute statement. It is obvious that in the United States, as in other coun- 
tries, those with higher status dislike any challenge to their privileged 
positions, and resist and resent new claimants. The common resistance to the 
claims for status equality of upwardly mobile ethnic groups such as the 
Jews, the Irish, and the Italians illustrates this. Status resentments against rising 
groups have been a frequent source of social tension all through American 

12 Daniel Bell, ed^ The Radical Eight (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1963). 

Values and Democratic Stability 2 1 5 

has always found it difficult to build an integrated regional social order 
on its own terms. 13 

Britain has come to accept the values of achievement in its economic 
and educational system, and to some extent in its political system, but 
retains a substantial degree of elitism (the assumption that those who 
hold high position be given generalized deference) and ascription (that 
those born to high place should retain it). 14 Tocqueville described the 
British class system as an "open aristocracy," which can be entered by 

13 See the essays in Charles Sellers, ed., The Southerner as American (Chapel 
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960), for interesting insights on 
the difficulties faced by Southern whites both before and after the Civil War 
in resolving the conflicts generated within the society and within the in- 
dividuals by the sharply varying dictates of alternative value systems. 

14 The general concept of elitism explicitly affects the training given to 
prospective members of the British upper class. Thus a description of the 
English public schools (private in the American sense) reports that "learning 
and the getting-fit are represented as part of the 'training for leadership* 
which many public-schoolmasters see as their social role. ... It infects the 
whole set-up with a certain smugness and a certain frightening elite concept. 
The word 'breeding' is often on their lips, . . . Many of these boys go around 
looking for people to lead: they actually say at the University interviews that 
they feel they have been trained to lead . . ." John Vaizey, "The Public 
Schools," in Hugh Thomas, ed., The Establishment (New York: Ckrkson 
Potter, 1959), pp. 28-29. 

"What does die middle-class Briton mean when he says that Eton or some 
obscure public school in the Midlands will develop his son's character? . . * 
I would say that he includes in character such traits as willingness to take 
responsibility, loyalty to the class concept of the nation's interests, readiness 
to lead, which implies, of course, a belief that he is fit to lead and that people 
are willing to be led. . . ." Drew Middleton, The British (London: Pan 
Books, 1958), pp. 230-231. 

The role of the public schools as a means of training an elitist upper class 
which took into itself the best of the arrivistes was an explicit objective 
of the reforms of the public school system initiated by Thomas Arnold in the 
1830's. He strongly admired aristocracy, saw respect for it at the heart of 
England's security and freedom, and wanted to make certain that it would 
not be corrupted. As he saw it, public school boys were "destined to become 
the new masters, the epitome of all the new tendencies, annexed and made 
subservient to the old aristocratic order of things. Tfou should feel,' he said 
in addressing the boys of the Sixth Form, Tike officers in the Army or Navy.* 
Officers! This comparison has been applied ever since to the public school men 
of England" G. J. Renier, The English: Are They Human? (New York: 
Roy Publishers, 1952), p. 249 and pp. 229-270; see also Asa Briggs, Victorian 
People (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1954), pp. 150-177; and Denis 
Brogan, The English People (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943), pp. 18-56. 

216 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

achievement but which confers on new entrants many of the diffuse 
perquisites of rank enjoyed by those whose membership stems from their 
social background. 15 Thus Britain differs from the United States in 
having, in terms of pattern variables, a strong emphasis on ascriptive, 
elitist, particularistic, and diffuse values. 

In the nineteenth century the British business classes challenged the 
traditional pre-industrial value integration. 16 But the British upper class 

15 Writing in Thomas Arnold's day in 1833, Tocqueville pointed out that 
what distinguished the English aristocracy "from all others is the ease with 
which it has opened its ranks. . . . [W]ith great riches, anybody could hope 
to enter into die ranks of the aristocracy. . . . The reason why the French 
nobles were the butt of all hatreds, was not chiefly that only nobles had the 
right to everything, but because nobody could become a noble. . . . The 
English aristocracy in feelings and prejudices resembles all the aristocracies 
of the world, but it is not in the least founded on birth, that inaccessible 
thing, but on wealth that everyone can acquire, and this one difference makes 
it stand, while the others succumb. . . . 

"[O]ne can clearly see in England where the aristocracy begins, but it is 
impossible to say where it ends. It could be compared to the Rhine whose 
source is to be found on the peak of a high mountain, but which divides into 
a thousand little streams and, in a manner of speaking, disappears before it 
reaches the sea. The difference between England and France in this manner 
turns on the examination of a single word in each language. 'Gentleman' and 
*gentilhomme' evidently have the same derivation but 'gentleman* in England 
is applied to every well-educated man whatever his birth, while in France 
gentilhomme applies only to a noble by birth. . . . This grammatical observa- 
tion is more illuminating than many long arguments. . . . 

"[I]f you speak to a member of the middle classes; you will find he hates 
some aristocrats but not the aristocracy. . . . 

"The whole of English society is still clearly based on an aristocratic foot- 
ing, and has contracted habits that only a violent revolution or the slow and 
continual action of new laws can destroy. . . ." Alexis de Tocqueville, 
Journeys to England and Ireland (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 
1958), pp. 59-60, 67, 70-71. 

Similarly, the great French student of English history, Elie Halevy, 
described the English upper class as "an aristocracy in which no rank was a 
closed caste, an aristocracy in which the inferior regarded the superior not 
with envy but respect. It was not impossible to climb into a superior class 
and those who respected those above them were respected in turn by those 
below. . . ." History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century (Lon- 
don: Ernest Bern Ltd., 1961), Vol. IV, p. 345. See also Vol. I, pp. 221-222. 

For a recent discussion stressing the same point, see Anthony Sampson, 
Anatomy of Britain (New York: Harper & Bros., 1962), especially pp. 3-30. 

16 For a detailed analysis of the way in which the values regulating class 
relations gradually changed with the rise of industry, see Reinhard Bendix, 
Work and Authority m Industry (New York: John Wiley, 1956), pp. 100-116. 

Values and Democratic Stability 217 

(in contrast to most Continental aristocracies) did not strongly resist 
the claims of the new business classes, and later those of the workers, 
to take part in politics. For reasons to be discussed later, when pressure 
for political participation developed within these classes in Britain, it was 
members of already enfranchised classes who took the leadership in 
reform movements. If communication between the different strata in 
Britain had been blocked by jealously guarded privileges as it had 
been in France conflicts over the suffrage might have become more 
divisive. As Robert Michels once pointed out, the presence of upper- 
class leaders in a working-class party serves to reduce conservatives' 
hostility toward it. To the extent that the social system permits a "left** 
party to recruit leaders from the existing elite, it is easier for this party 
to become an accepted part of the polity. It is worth noting that, unlike 
the British Labour Party, the German socialists have recruited few, if any, 
leaders from the old upper classes. 

Thus the economy and polity in Britain have been characterized by 
achievement, elitism, universalism, and diffuseness. The social class system, 
however, retains many elements of ascription, elitism, particularism, and 
diffuseness. The traditional upper classes and their institutions the 
public schools, the ancient universities, and the tided aristocracy remain 
at the summit of the social structure. 17 At the same time, achievers in 
job and school are not barred from securing diffuse elite status, and the 
lower classes feel that the political institutions operate for their benefit. 
Like the liberal bourgeoisie before them, the British workers have never 
seriously developed the objective of eliminating the old privileged classes, 
either socially or economically, 18 Having been allowed into the political 

17 See C. A. R. Crosland, The Future of Socialism (London: Jonathan Cape, 
1956), pp. 232-237; Raymond Williams, The Long Revolution (New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1961), pp. 318-321; Sampson, Anatomy of Britain, 
pp. 160-217. 

18 Writing in the early 1860's, before Bagehot laid down his thesis that the 
stability of the British polity rested on the strength of deferential ties, Taine 
predicted that these social relations would maintain the class structure even 
under conditions of universal suffrage: "[B]eneath the institutions and charters, 
the bill of rights and the official almanacs, there are the ideas, the habits and 
customs and character of the people and the classes; there are the respective 
positions of the classes, their reciprocal feelings in short a complex of deep 
and branching invisible roots beneath the viable trunk and foliage. , . . We 
admire the stability of British government; but this stability is the final product, 
the fine flower at the extremity of an infinite number of living fibres firmly 
planted in the soil of die entire country. . . . 

"For the grip of tradition, sentiment and instinct is tenacious. There is 
no stronger attachment than- attachment- . . . Even at die time of die rotten 

218 Democracy In Comparative Perspective 

dub almost as soon as British labor developed organizations of its own, 
working-class leaders have supported the rules of the parliamentary game. 
Unlike many early continental socialist parties, they were willing, while 
a small minority party, to cooperate with one of the older parties. And 
currently they remain the only socialist party whose policies "sustain" 
the legitimacy of aristocracy; their leaders, like other members of the 
Establishment, willingly accept aristocratic tides and other honors from 
the Grown. 1 * 

boroughs Parliament was representative of the people's will, as it is today 
although the number of people having a vote is rather small. And it will 
still be so in ten years 7 time, if the Reform Bill extends the suffrage. In my 
view changes in the law relating to the suffrage do no more than perfect 
the system in detail, without affecting fundamentals. The important thing 
remains the same, public assent. And, enfranchised or not, the labourer and 
the 'shopkeeper' agrees in wanting a man of the upper classes at the helm." 
On the other hand, Taine felt that "attachment" to leaders or representatives 
was absent in his native France; democracy could not work well there because 
France was characterized by "egalitarian envy," while at the same time it 
lacked the educated mass base which made possible "an intelligent democracy" 
in the United States. Hippolyte Taine, Notes on England (Fair Lawn, N.J.: 
Essential Boots, 1958), pp. 162, 164-165. 

^dement Atlee, speaking as leader of the Labour Party in the House of 
Commons on July 9, 1952, opposed sweeping economies in royal expenditures 
on the following grounds: "It is a great mistake to make government too 
dulL That, I think, was the fault of the German Republic after the first World 
War, They were very drab and dull." Cited in Edward Shils and Michael 
Young, "The Meaning of the Coronation," in S. M. Lipset and Neil Smelser, 
eds., Sociology; Tbe Progress of a Decade (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice- 
Hall, 1961), p. 22L 

**In 1957, three people in five throughout the country were still keeping 
souvenirs from the 1953 Coronation; and three in ten claimed to have a 
picture of a royal person in their house." Tom Harrison, Britain Revisited 
(London: Victor Gollancz, 1961), p. 232. 

George Orwell suggested that elitist sentiments are strong among British 
workers as well "Even in socialist literature it is common to find contemptuous 
references to slum-dwellers. . . . There is also, probably, more disposition to 
accept class distinctions as permanent, and even to accept the upper classes 
as natural leaders, than survives in most countries. . . . The word *Sir* is much 
used in England, and the man of obviously upper-class appearance can usually 
get more than his fair share of deference from commissionaires, ticket-col- 
lectors, policemen, and the like. It is this aspect of English life that seems 
most shocking to visitors from America and the Dominions." The English 
People (London: Collins, 1947), p. 29. 

The British journalist Jenny Nasmyth has pointed out that "most Labour 
M,P.s who can afford it, and many who cannot, send their children to the 

Values and Democratic Stability 219 

The deference shown to the system by the leaders and the rank and 
file of the labor movement is not simply a reaction to the strength of the 
status system. The British upper class has long shown a high level of 
sophistication in handling the admission of new strata to the "club." Thus 
in 1923, as Labour was about to form its first government, the Sundy 
Times printed a manifesto by Richard Haldane (Viscount of Cloan) 
urging that the two old parties give Labour a fair chance at government: 

We have to recognize that a great change is in progress. Labour 
has attained to commanding power and to a new status. There is no 
need for alarm. All may go well if as a nation we keep in mind the 
necessity of the satisfaction of two new demands that for recogni- 
tion of the title to equality, and for more knowledge and its system- 
atic application to industry and to the rest of life. , . The result 
of the General Election may prove a blessing to us if it has awakened 
us to our neglect of something momentous which has been slowly 
emerging for years past. . . . Three quarters of a century since, the 
old Whigs, wise in their limited way, refused to meet the Chartist 
movement merely with a blank refusal. Thereby they earned our 
gratitude. For while most of the nations of Europe were plunged 
into revolution as a result of turning deaf ears to their violent 
progressives, we were saved, and remained in comparative quiet. 
. . . We had spoken with the enemy in the gate, and he had turned 
out to be of the same flesh and blood as ourselves. . . .* 

Edward Shils, in The Torment of Secrecy, seeks to account for the 
great emphasis on publicity concerning political matters in the United 
States, e.g., congressional investigations, as contrasted with the stress on 
privacy and secrecy in Britain. His explanation hinges on the fact that 
Britain is still a deferential society as compared with the United States: 

The United States has been committed to the principle of publicity 
since its origin. The atmosphere of distrust of aristocracy and of 
pretensions to aristocracy in which the American Republic spent its 

traditional [public] schools of die governing classes. They do this, perhaps, 
not primarily because they are snobs, but because, having themselves assumed 
the obligations of governing, they have an easy conscience (so easy that they 
seem blind to the inconsistencies between their political principles and their 
private lives) about partaking in the privileges of the governing classes." "Dons 
and Gadflies," The Twentieth Century, 162 (1957), p. 386. 
20 Quoted in Kingsley Martin, The Cro*wn and the Establishment (London: 
Hutchinson, 1962), p. 88. 

220 Democracy In Comparative Perspective 

formative years has persisted in many forms. Repugnance for gov- 
ernmental secreriveness was an offspring of the distrust of aristoc- 

In the United States, the political elite could never claim the 
immunities and privileges of the rulers of an aristocratic society. . . . 

American culture is a populistic culture. As such, it seeks publicity 
as a good in itself. Extremely suspicious of anything which smacks of 
"holding back," it appreciates publicity, not merely as a curb on the 
arrogance of rulers but as a condition in which the members of 
society are brought into a maximum of contact with each other. 

. . . Great Britain is a modern, large-scale society with a politicized 
population, a tradition of institutionalized pluralism, a system of 
representative institutions and great freedom of enquiry, discussion, 
and reporting. . . . British political life is strikingly quiet and con- 
fined. Modern publicity is hemmed about by a generally well- 
respected privacy 

Although democratic and pluralistic, British society is not populist. 
Great Britain is a hierarchical country. Even when it is distrusted, 
the Government, instead of being looked down upon, as it often is 
in the United States, is, as such, the object of deference because the 
Government is still diffused with the symbolism of a monarchical 
and aristocratic society. The British Government, of course, is no 
longer aristocratic . . . [But it] enjoys the deference which is 
aroused in the breast of Englishmen by the symbols of hierarchy 
which find their highest expression in the Monarchy. . . . 

The acceptance of hierarchy in British society permits the Gov- 
ernment to retain its secrets, with little challenge or resentment. 
. . . The deferential attitude of the working and middle classes is 
matched by the uncommunicativeness of the upper-middle classes 
and of those who govern. . . . The traditional sense of the privacy 
of executive deliberations characteristic of the ruling classes of 
Great Britain has imposed itself on the rest of the society and has 
established a barrier beyond which publicity may not justifiably 
penetrate. 21 

21 Edward A. Shils, The Torment of Secrecy (Glencoe, HL: The Free Press, 
1956), pp. 37-51. This book deserves recognition as at least a minor classic of 
sociological analysis of a social problem; and yet curiously is not well known. 
There are few other books I know of which are as illuminating concerning 
the interrelationships of American society and polity. The earlier article by 
Shils and Michael Young on the monarchy is also well worth reading in the 
context of problems raised in this chapter. "The Meaning of the Coronation," 
op. cit., pp. 220-233. See also H. H. Hyman, "England and America: Climates 
of Tolerance and Intolerance,*' in Daniel Bell, ed., The Radical Right, pp. 227- 
Other articles and books which present interesting case materials on 

Values and Democratic Stability 221 

The protection from populist criticism which an elitist system gives to 
all who possess the diffuse status of "leaders" extends not only to the 
political and intellectual elites but to school teachers and the school 
system as well. A study of the comparative position of teachers in Eng- 
land and America points this out well: 

Conservative, Labour, and Liberal parties alike have consistently 
held to the view that the content of education and methods of in- 
struction are not matters for popular debate and decision, but should 
be left in the hands of teachers themselves and of other professional 
educators. This being so, individuals or groups seeking to "use" 
the schools for their own purposes are confronted, not by the hastily 
constructed defenses of the teacher or of a single school or school 
board, as in America, but by the massive disregard of experienced 
politicians and administrators. This willing delegation of educational 
issues to educators is possible because the latter form a coherent 
and predictable element in the authority structure that moulds 
society. . . . 

The relation between the school and the family also differs in the 
two countries. In America, for the most part, the parents hand over 
their child to the school system, but maintain a continuous scrutiny 
over progress. In England, "interference" by the parents in the 
school is resisted both by teachers and by educational administrators. 
Parents' associations and parent-teacher associations are becoming 
increasingly common, but they limit their activities to social func- 
tions and to meetings at which school policy is explained but not 
debated. 22 

significant differences between various aspects of British and American 
society are: Stephen Richardson, "Organizational Contrasts on British and 
American Ships," Administration Science Quarterly, I (1956), pp. 189-207; 
L. C. B. Gower and Leolin Price, "The Profession and Practice of Law in 
England and America," Modern Law Review, 20 (1957), pp. 317-346; Roy 
Lewis and Rosemary Stewart, The Managers: A New Examination of the 
English, German y and American Executive (New York: Mentor Books, 1961); 
P. S. Florence, The Logic of British and American Industry (Chapel Hill: 
The University of North Carolina Press, 1953); E. Lipson, Reflections on 
"Britain and the United States Mainly Economic (London: The Pall Mall 
Press, 1959), see especially Chapter 1, "The American and British Way of 
Life**; GAR. Crosiand, The Future of Socialism, pp. 238-257 and passim; and 
George Baron and Asher Tropp, "Teachers in England and America," in 
A. H. Halsey, Jean Floud, and C. A. Anderson, eds., Education, Economy, and 
Society (New York: The Free Press, 1961), pp. 545-557. 
22 Baron and Tropp, "Teachers in England and America," op. cit., p. 548. 

222 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

Ralph Turner also shows how variations in the basic values of the 
two societies impinge on their educational systems. American education 
reflects the norms of contest mobility, "a system in which elite status is 
the prize in an open contest and is taken by the aspirants' own efforts. 

Since the 'prize' of successful upward mobility is not in the hands of 

the established elite to give out, the latter are not in a position to determine 
who shall attain it and who shall not." Conversely, British education 
reflects the norms of sponsored mobility, in which "elite recruits are 
chosen by the established elite or their agents, and elite status is given 
on the basis of some criterion of supposed merit and cannot be taken by 
any amount of effort or strategy. Upward mobility is like entry into a 
private club, where each candidate must be 'sponsored' by one or more 
of the members." 

The American system, with its emphasis on the common school and 
opportunities for further education at every level, encourages all to 
advance themselves through their own efforts. 'TEvery individual is 
encouraged to think of himself as competing for an elite position, so that 
in preparation he cultivates loyalty to the system and conventional at- 
titudes." 23 Conversely, the British system has always selected the minority 
who will go ahead in the educational system at a relatively early age. 
Those not selected, the large bulk of the population, are taught to 
"regard themselves as relatively incompetent to manage society. . . . 
The earlier that selection of the elite recruits can be made, the sooner 
the masses can be taught to accept their inferiority and to make 'realistic' 
rather than phantasy plans." 2 * Those selected for the elite, on the other 

23 Ralph Turner, "Modes of Social Ascent through Education: Sponsored and 
Contest Mobility," in Halsey, Floud, and Anderson, Education, Economy, and 
Society, pp. 122, 125. (Emphasis in original.) For a discussion of the elitist as- 
sumptions and consequences of the English school system by a Labour Party 
leader who is much impressed by the egalitarian aspects of the American edu- 
cational system, see Crosland, The Future of Socialism, pp. 258-277 and 
passim; see also Sampson, Anatomy of Britain, pp. 174-194. 

24 Turner, "Modes of Social Ascent . . . ," op. rit., p. 126. One of the key 
differences between England and the United States that has been noted as 
most clearly reflecting the contrast between an egalitarian society with a 
"common school" and an elitist society with a highly class segregated system 
of education is accent variations. As G, A. R. Crosland has put it: "[P]art of 
the reason why these differences [between classes in England] make so strong 
an impact is that they are associated with, and exaggerated by, the most 
supremely nnmistakeable of all symbols of social standing differences of 
accent and vocabulary. In no other country is it possible in the same way 
to assess a person's social standing the moment he opens his mouth, . . ," 
The Future of Socialism, pp. 177-178. 

Values and Democratic Stability 223 

hand, are removed from competition and admitted to a school, either 
public or grammar, in which there is great emphasis on absorbing the 
elite's aesthetic culture, manners, and sense of paternalism toward the 
non-elite. Unlike the situation in America, where in the absence of a 
sense of a special elite culture the masses retain their right and ability 
to determine taste, English society operates on the assumption that only 
the elite may determine what is high or low quality. 25 

And in a recent report on English life, the founder of Mass Observation 
(an organization which has studied mass behavior through systematic obser- 
vation techniques since 1937), writing about working-class life, comments 
that in spite of all the other major changes that have occurred since they 
began their observations: "No voice changes can be detected between 1937 
and 1960. Radio, television and other outside impacts oriented to a more 
standard English appear to have had litde or no effect. A tiny minority have 
consciously altered their voices. But elocution and speech training are still 
not important here. An English master at one of the big local schools . . . 
gave his considered opinion that if anything the standard of speaking of what 
he called 'King's English' had gone down" Harrison, Britain Revisited, p. 
32. (Emphasis in original.) 

25 For an analysis of the way in which the variations in the status of elites, 
diffuse or specific, affect the position of intellectuals in England and 
America, see rny Political Man, pp. 326-328. A. G. Nicholas has argued that 
although intellectuals do not have high status iffithm the elite in England, the 
intellectual there receives more overt respect from the population as a whole 
than does his compeer in America because the former "has been in some 
degree sheltered by his very position in what Bagehot called a 'deferential* 
society. Not very deferential to him, perhaps; less deferential than to the 
landowner, the administrator, the soldier, the clergyman, or the lawyer, over 
all of whom the protective gabardine of the appellation 'gentleman* has 
fallen more inclusively, with fewer ends sticking out. Nevertheless the 
[English] intellectual has shared in it too. . . , n "Intellectuals and Politics in 
the U.S.A.," Occidente, 10 (1954), p. 47; see also Gertrude Himmelfarb, 
"American Democracy and European Critics," The Twentieth Century, 151 
(1952), pp. 320-327. 

A clear indication of the differences in the values of those in charge of 
English elite education and those of comparably placed Americans may be 
seen in the criticism of the views of the former president of the highest 
status American university, Harvard, by the Master of the Manchester 
Grammar School: "When Professor Conant demands *a common core of 
general education which will unite in one cultural pattern the future 
carpenter, factory workers, bishop, lawyer, doctor, sales-manager, professor 
and garage mechanic,' he is simply asking for the impossible. The demand for 
such a common culture rests either on an altogether over-optimistic belief 
in die educability of the majority that is certainly not justified by experience 
or on a willingness to surrender the highest standards of taste and judgment 
to the incessant demands of mediocrity." Cited from E. James, Education for 

224 Democracy in Cmnparative Perspective 

In his discussion of the sources of stability of English democracy, 
Harry Eckstein observes that authority patterns vary among the classes 
authoritarian relations increase as one moves down the social ladder. 
Within the British elite, he suggests, social relations 

tend to be quite surprisingly democratic, or at least consultative and 
comradely; here . . , we might note the ubiquity of committees at 
every conceivable level in the higher civil service, the unusual use 
of staff committees in the military services, and the easy relations 
among officers of all ranks in military regiments, especially in elitist 
regiments like the Guards . . . , while behavior among pupils [in 
upper-class public schools] is modeled to a remarkable extent on the 
political system. 

[Conversely, where hierarchical relations are involved, as] between 
members of the Administrative Class [of the Civil Service] and 
their underlings, officers and their men, managers and their help, 
relations are highly non-consultative and certainly not com- 
radely. . . . 2 

The United States and Great Britain differ, of course, not only in 
these patterns, but in the extent to which the same value orientations 
dominate the key status, economic, and political subsystems of the 
society. Presumably, Eckstein would relate the stability of American 
populist democracy to the fact that there are egalitarian social relations 
within all levels. American society has more homogeneity of values than 
the British. On the other hand, the particular distribution of different 
value orientations in Britain would also seem to be congruent with the 
stability of an industrialized democracy, since it legitimates open participa- 
tion by all group in the economy and polity, while the diffuse elitism 
rewards all with a claim to high position. 

France and Germany 

The values of France and Germany our politically unstable cases 
resemble those of the United States and Britain in many respects. France, 
through her Great Revolution of 1789, sought to adopt die same syn- 
drome of values which the United States developed: achievement, 

Leadership, in Michael Young, The Rise of the Meritocracy (New York: 
Random House, 1959), p. 40. 

26 Hany Eckstein, A Theory of Stable Democracy (Princeton, N.J.: Mono- 
graph No. 10. Center for International Studies, Princeton University, 1961), 
pp. 15-16. 

Values and Democratic Stability 225 

equaKtarianism, universalism, specificity. The Declaration of the Rights 
of Man, like the Declaration of Independence, proclaims doctrines sub- 
sumed by these concepts. Germany has resembled Britain in that the 
pressures stemming from economic change and the rise of new social 
groupings in the nineteenth century did not result in a political revolu- 
tion which proclaimed a new value ethos. Rather, Germany seemingly 
sought to modify existing institutions and to create diverse value patterns 
in different hierarchical subsystems in ways very similar to those which 
developed in Britain. The French failure stems from the fact that, in 
contrast to America, the forces of the Revolution were not strong enough 
to sustain value consensus among the key social groupings; in Germany 
the new combinations of values, though powerful, were basically in- 
compatible with the requirements for a stable non-authoritarian political 

French society is difficult to classify in terms of basic values. Its 
internal political tensions flow in large measure from the fact that major 
social groupings adhere to largely incompatible values. The French 
sociologist Francois Bourricaud has pointed this out: 

It is ... difficult to seize upon and isolate the unconscious or semi- 
conscious motivations [basic values] which give French institutions 
their tone and their specific color. They are more apparent in some 
groups than in others. Certain themes of French culture are more 
clearly discernible, more sharply outlined, among the bourgeois 
than among the workers. All research of this nature begins by 
determining what social groups are culturally dominant. America, 
for example, has developed a culture of the middle classes. But in 
France a group can be culturally dominant in one area and not at 
all present in another. . . . For example, the tradition of the noble 
life continues without doubt to be very influential in French society 
even though the nobility as a social group does not amount to much. 
... In brief, cultural themes are very far from being unified even 
within the society, both by reason of the diversity of the groups 
which make up this society and the diversity of activities by which 
this culture is expressed. 27 

These internal cleavages result from the fact that the French Revolu- 
tion succeeded in eliminating neither the old set of ascriptive-particularis- 

27 Francois Bourricaud, "France," in Arnold M. Rose, ed., The Institutions 
of Advanced Societies, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1958), 
pp. 500-501. 

226 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

tic values nor some of their key institutional supports, particularly the 
Church. A large part of the French bourgeoisie, whose status and 
economic objectives sustained the Revolution, never completely re- 
jected the traditional value system. 28 And, as Frangois Goguel points 
out, this traditional value system was directly hostile to democracy: 

A pessimistic idea of human nature an idea of Catholic origin, and 
directly opposed to the optimism of J. J. Rousseau is at the basis 
of this conviction; man, being naturally evil, must have teachers, or 
guides^ to direct him toward good. These guides are the traditional 
institutions, the social authorities. The first is the authority of 
monarchy, temporally the highest, and then the First Families, pre- 
destined by birth and wealth to a leading role. Finally, above all, 
there is the Catholic Church, charged with shaping conscience and 
soul and conditioning them toward the social order and eternal 
salvation. These theocratic ideas, expounded by Bonald at the time 
of the Restoration, survived much longer than one would have 
thought possible ^ 

France has maintained particularistic values in commerce and industry 
more than any other industrial nation. The economic policies of many 
French small businessmen emphasize the maintenance of the family 
fortune and status. They refuse to tate economic risks or to enter into 
serious competition with one another. 30 The politics of the petty 
bourgeoisie has stressed the stability of existing business, even though 

28 Tocqueville has argued that fear of social revolution led the bourgeoisie 
to return to Catholicism. As he put it: "The Revolution of 1792, when 
striking the upper classes, had cured them of their irreligiousness; it had 
taught them, if not the truth, at least the social usefulness of belief. . . . The 
Revolution of 1848 had just done on a small scale for our tradesmen what 
that of 1792 had done for the nobility. . . . The clergy had facilitated this 
conversion by [giving] ... to long established interests, the guarantees of its 
traditions, its customs and its hierarchy." The Recollections of Alexis de 
Tocqueville (London: The Harvill Press, 1948), p. 120. 

29 Francois Goguel, "The Idea of Democracy and the Political Institutions," 
in Saul K. Padover, 'French Institutions, Values and Politics (Stanford, Calif.: 
Stanford University Press, 1954), pp. 12-13. 

30 See the articles by John E. Sawyer, "Strains in the Social Structure of 
Modern France," and by David S. Landes, "French Business and the Business- 
man: A Social and Cultural Analysis," in Edward M. Earle, ed., Modern 
France (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1951), pp. 293-312; 334- 
353. See also Roy Lewis and Rosemary Stewart, The Managers, pp. 182-187. 
For a discussion of similar attitudes and consequences in Italy, see Maurice 
F. Neufeld, Italy: School -for Awakening Countries (Ithaca: N.Y. State 
School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 1961), pp. 36 and passim. 

Values and Democratic Stability 227 

this has limited the economy's potential for expansion. 31 French em- 
ployers, particularly in small plants, have expected particularistic loyalties 
from their employees. 32 All through its history, French industry has 
attempted to deny representation rights to trade unions, and when 
forced to grant them has undermined these concessions as soon as 
possible. To permit the unions rights of representation and thereby 
to acknowledge universalistic norms has been seen as morally offensive. 
The behavior of the French businessman is, of course, more complicated 
than this brief analysis suggests, since a capitalist system inevitably 
dictates a considerable degree of universalism. 33 As Frangois Bourricaud 
has pointed out: "Between the 'bourgeois' money criterion and more 
aristocratic criteria antiquity of family and connection the bourgeois 
hesitates. This ambiguity explains in part, perhaps, why his relations 
with the workers have been so difficult " 34 

31 Raymond Aron, who differs from most analysts of the French scene in 
arguing that there has been a rapid rate of growth in the total French economy 
in most of this century, agrees, however, that "the usual idea that France 
is still the nation of small business is, then, not false. ... It is quite likely 
that in many sectors there are still large numbers of firms which are too small 
and more or less unproductive. Sometimes these marginal enterprises are 
protected rather than opposed by the larger ones, which thus ensure extra 
profits by maintaining prices at levels desired by the former. 

"This relative slowness in concentration is attended by the survival of 
precapitalist^ legal entities. . . . 

"The French seem to attach importance to independence and at times to 
prefer it to higher income. Resistance [to incorporation into larger units] . . . 
expresses a characteristic of the national psychology just as it is a result of a 
policy adopted by governments under pressure from the electorate or grouped 
interests." France: Steadfast and Changing (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, 1960), pp. 60-<52. 

82 In discussing the French businessman, Roy Lewis and Rosemary Stewart 
have pointed out these tendencies in detail: "The businessman is paternalistic 
and autocratic, treating his employees as l mes erf ants, 9 as much a part of his 
'maison' as his own children and domestics. In an age of rapid technological 
change, this has led not only to discontent among the children, but also to a 
failure to modernize. . . . 

"Their labor relations are also prejudiced, and even French big business 
lacks 'industrial-relations sense.' In France, the dogged anti-labor attitude of 
the businessman has ended not only with businesses paying for social welfare 
out of their own pockets directly, but also with an irreconcilably bitter 
anticapitalist feeling among the workers, who vote Communist often for that 
reason and no other." The Managers, pp. 186-187. 

83 See Aron, France: Steadfast and Changing, pp. 45-77. 

84 Bourricaud, "France," op. tit., p. 478. 

228 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

The French working class, on the other hand, has supported in 
ideology, if not always in action, the revolutionary values of achievement, 
equalitarianism, universalism. However, it has been faced with a situation 
in which individual and collective mobility are morally disapproved of 
by the more privileged orders although, of course, as in other industrial 
societies, considerable individual mobility does occur. 35 French workers' 
efforts to improve their lot through collective action are bitterly resisted 
by the bourgeoisie, and the emphasis on local particularism inhibits the 
unions' efforts to form strong nation-wide organizations. 36 There is perhaps 
no more impressive evidence of the deep moral hostility of many French 
employers towards unions than the systematic effort to demolish all 
union rights during the period of the "phony" war, from September 
1939 to May 1940. Seemingly both employers and their political rep- 
resentatives in the government put "teaching the workers and unions a 
lesson" ahead of national unity and, in the last analysis, national survival. 87 

The effort to sustain traditionalist norms within a growing economy 
has inhibited the creation of a democratic parliamentary system based 
on achievement and universalism. Every French republic has sought to 
institutionalize these values, and has given the lower classes equal rights 
of access to government. In most other countries such rights and norms 
have led to the tempering of aggressive ideologies in the lower classes; in 
France it has led to an intensification of these ideologies. 

Thus the most disruptive element in French culture has been the 
cleavage between pre-industrial values, supported by the upper classes and 
the church, which have continued to affect the economic sector, and the 
legitimacy of the Revolution, which has formally dominated the political 
structure. The ascriptive, elitist, and particularistic aspects of French 
values facilitated the emergence of politics along class lines, while the 
emphasis on equalitarianism, universalism, and achievement has led the 
less privileged strata to sharply resent their position. Tocqueville pointed 
to this problem in an exaggerated form when he suggested: "To conceive 

86 There is some evidence and opinion to sustain the belief that successfully 

mobile French are more likely to hide this fact than would be true for 

comparable individuals in other countries. See S. M. Lipset and R. Bendix, 

Social Mobility in Industrial Society (Berkeley: University of California 

Press, 1959), pp. 19, 82-83. 

S6 VaI Lorwin, The French Labor Movement (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard 

University Press, 1954), pp. 36-37. 

37 See Herbert Luethy, The State of France (London: Seeker and Warburg, 

1955), p. 87; Val Lorwin, The French Labor Movement, pp. 87-88; Henry W. 

Ehrmann, French Labor, From Popular Front to Liberation (New York: 

Oxford University Press, 1947), pp. 169-232. 

Values and Democratic Stability 229 

of men remaining forever unequal upon a single point, yet equal on all 
others, is impossible; they must come in the end to be equal upon all." 38 

The retention of pre-industrial values within French capitalism did 
not mean, of course, that all of French industry adhered to them. Within 
large-scale industry as within government, the corollaries of bureaucrati- 
zation and rationalization emerged: stable definition of rights and duties, 
systematic universalistic ordering of authority relationships, publicity of 
decisions, the appearance of personnel experts or specialists in labor 
relations as a consequence of the division of labor. And though one 
generally expects workers to be more radical in large-scale industry than 
in small, in those sections of France where industry was large and bureau- 
cratic in general the North the business classes demonstrated a greater 
willingness to accept trade unions as a legitimate and permanent part of 
the industrial system; there, syndicalism and Communism were weakest. 
Before 1914, the Socialists were strongest in the areas of the country with 
large industry, while the anarcho-syndicalists had their greatest strength 
in those parts of the nation where the particularistic values of small 
business were dominant. These differences were paralleled between the 
two great wars by the variations in support of the Socialists and Com- 
munists. The Communists, in general, took over the centers of syndicalist 
strength, though since World War II they have become the party of the 
French industrial workers almost everywhere. 

The picture of a relatively stagnant France with "stalemate" politics, a 
reluctance to take advantage of economic opportunities, and a low birth- 
rate, which was accurate enough before World War II, has changed 
drastically since then. The European economic miracle great and rapid 
economic growth and a sharp increase in the consumption of mass- 
produced items has affected France as much as any country. The net 
reproduction birth rate, which stood below 100 (the rate at which a 
population reproduces itself) all during the inter-war years, has hovered 
around 125 since 1946. 39 A number of observers of the French scene 
have argued that "the combination of 'new men and new attitudes' in- 
herited from the war period has made French society much less different 
from the societies of other industrial nations." 

88 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Vintage 
Books, 1956), Vol. I, p. 55. (Equality in this sense does not mean equality 
of condition, but rather universalistic treatment in all sectors.) 
3 * Charles P. Kindleberger, "The Postwar Resurgence of the French Econ- 
omy," in Stanley Hoffman, Charles P. Kindleberger, Laurence Wylie, Jesse 
R. Pitts, Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, and Fran$ois Goguel, In Search of France 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963), p. 133. 

230 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

In the civil service, in business, in professional organizations, even in 
the military forces, new groups of "technocrats" appear men 
who specialize in the management of a highly industrialized and 
bureaucratic society, men who earn high incomes without neces- 
sarily owning much capital. . . . 

Within the business world, a kind of managerial revolution has led 
to a new conception of profits, in which management and owner- 
ship are less tightly fused and in which the firm's power counts 
more than the owner's fortune. 40 

The emergence of a "modern" France would seem to be negated by 
the continued strength of the Communists as a party and union move- 
ment (CGT) among the industrial workers, and the highly unstable 
political system. It may be argued, however, that the current instabilities 
of the political system now reflect the tensions of rapid change super- 
imposed on a polity whose political leadership has a traditional bent 
toward uncompromising rhetoric. The Communists have retained most 
of the working-class electoral following which they secured in the kte 
1930's and the 1940's. They have not gained new votes, and they have 
lost a large proportion of their party and trade-union membership. But if 
the majority of French workers still vote Communist, various opinion 
surveys suggest a relatively low level of class alienation among the 
workers. On the "right," the principal version of anti-democratic ex- 
tremism the Poujadist movement secured almost all of its backing from 
the declining middle-class strata, often in regions that were being eco- 
nomically impoverished That is, those who found their relative or 
absolute economic and social position worsening as a result of changes 
in French society were attracted to a politics that was "against the sys- 
tem." The tensions over the Algerian War similarly involved efforts 
to resist inherent "modernizing" tendencies. In a real sense, the Gaullist 
fifth republic is engaged in an effort to bring France's polity and values 
into line with the changing reality of its class and economic structures. 
But political and organizational loyalties do not disappear quickly, and 
consequently the political system, in which conflicts over these values 
are acted out, seems much more resistant to change than are other in- 

The way in which historic tensions are maintained may be seen most 
clearly by examining the sources of the perpetuation of value differences 
between those white-collar workers who are employed in the bureaucracy 

40 Stanley Hoffman, "Paradoxes of the French Political Community," in 
Hoffman, et /., In Search of France, p. 61. 

Values and Democratic Stability 231 

of industry and those employed by government. In France, it has not been 
possible to speak of the * Vhke-colkr worker" as such; rather, there are 
the sharply differing backgrounds of the employe (private employee) 
and the -fonctionnaire (civil servant). As the French sociologist Michel 
Crozier has described the situation in his country: 

We meet two opposite types of participation and integration in 
society; one type which can be described as paternalistic and which 
is present among traditional white-collar workers (bank employees, 
insurance employees, and those employed in industry), and an egali- 
tarian type, present in the world of the lower civil servants. . . . The 
same basic psychological situation has produced two role types, and 
with these two roles, two different concepts of society, two sets of 
religious attitudes, two approaches to politics. These differences 
have tended to decline since the second World War, but there are 
still two different worlds which are determined in one case by chan- 
nels of social mobility through the lay and anti-clerical sector of 
the society, and in the other through paternalistic and even confes- 
sional methods of entrance. 41 

These two non-manual strata are recruited from different sectors of 
French society. Private industry tends to secure its employees from the 
graduates of the Catholic schools, often on the basis of personal recom- 
mendations, and "many private firms examine carefully the family origins 
... of prospective employees." The Civil Service is recruited almost ex- 
clusively from state schools whose faculties are overwhelmingly on the 
political left. Its recruitment procedures and operation emphasize rigorous 
selection criteria and formal academic achievement. These differences in 
the recruitment and membership deeply affect French trade-union politi- 
cal life, since the Catholic trade-union federation (CFTC) and the liberal 
Catholic party (the MRP) have their principal base of support in the 
white-collar workers employed in private industry, while the socialist-in- 
fluenced union federation, Force Ouvrier (FO), and the socialist party 
(SFIO), have their strongest supporters among the lower echelons of 
civil service workers. 

The political consequences of these differences are known; the in- 
ability of the parties of the Center, of the Third Force, to overcome 
their differences and to form any permanent unity. These differences 

41 Michel Crozier, "Classes san conscience ou prefiguration de las societe sans 
classes," European Journal of Sociology, 1 (1960), pp. 244-245. 

232 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

support, and are in turn nourished by, the opposition of the socialist 
FO and the Catholic CFTC unions, a conflict based in the last anal- 
ysis on the essential incompatibility between the religious mentality 
of the old Federation of White-Collar workers, the base of the 
CFTC, and the lay mentality of the federations of Civil Servants in 
theFO. 42 

Thus France remains unstable politically. It may currently be in the 
final process of cultural "modernization," but historic institutional com- 
mitments still prevent the emergence of a fully modern domestic politics, 
one in which the basic internal issues revolve around an interest struggle 
for the division of national income within a welfare state. Rather, issues 
concerning the legitimacy of various institutions, the role of the religious 
and secular school, and the structure of authority still divide the nation. 
Historically, the resistance of the French ascriptive and particularistic 
"right" to accepting changes in power relations within industry, to legit- 
imating (i.e., morally accepting) unions, was in large measure responsi- 
ble for the fact that the French workers, though possessors of the suffrage 
before workers elsewhere in Europe, remain alienated from the polity. 43 
Conversely, to the extent that the workers have supported extremist tend- 
encies, anarcho-syndicalism and Communism, the conservative strata have 
been enabled to feel morally sustained in their refusal to share power. To 
break through this vicious cycle of extremism and counter-extremism is 
not an easy task, even though the cleavages in basic values may be ending. 

The difficulties of the German polity stem from sources which are, in 
one sense, the obverse of the French. Where France has encouraged polit- 
ical participation by the lower classes but denied them rights in industry, 
the German system has given the working class rights and protection 
within industry while limiting their access to the polity. Until 1918 at 
least, the German aristocratic classes successfully maintained ascriptive 
and particularistic values in the non-economic areas of life, while en- 
couraging achievement and universalism, but not equalitarianism, in the 
economic order. That is, the old upper classes permitted, and sometimes 
even encouraged, the working class to improve its economic position 

**Loc cit. 

48 It should also be noted that this alienation cannot be explained primarily 
by low wages. "In comparison with European wages, they are not low. 
Higher than in Italy or Holland, certainly not as high as in Sweden or 
Switzerland, a little lower than in Great Britain, they have been somewhat 
better in buying power than in Germany and are still at least equal in that 
respect.'* Raymond Aron, France: Steadfast and Changing, p. 49. 

Values and Democratic Stability 233 

through social legislation and trade unions. They were not willing, how- 
ever, to accede to achievement criteria in the status and political orders. 
Individuals were still judged and rejected according to their social origins. 
This meant that, as is usual in an ascriptively oriented status system, 
political movements emerged based on distinct status or class lines which 
were buttressed by the class organizations in industry. However, these 
political groupings could never gain a secure foothold in the political 

Concretely, the Prussian aristocracy and the Wilhelmine monarchy, 
while sympathetic to the objectives of the unions in industry, first at- 
tempted to suppress the Socialists as a party between 1878 and 1891, and 
then refused to accept a democratic electoral system in Prussia, the chief 
state of the Reich, up to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1918. This re- 
fusal to allow the workers' political representatives a share in political 
power forced the Socialist movement to maintain a revolutionary ideo- 
logical posture which was at complete variance with its social position 
and aspirations. The workers' movement did not want to destroy the state, 
but rather to be admitted to it. In southern Germany, where ascriptive 
status lines were much less rigid than in Prussia, and where the conserva- 
tive classes admitted the workers' political movements into the body pol- 
itic, the Socialist parties quickly developed a moderate, reformist, and 
pragmatic ideology. In these states, the revisionist doctrines of Eduard 
Bernstein had their earliest and strongest advocates; in some, the Social- 
Democrats supported cooperation with non-socialist parties, thereby re- 
ducing the emphasis on class warfare. 44 In Weimar Germany, the Social 
Democratic Party developed into a moderate organization, and, until the 
outbreak of the Great Depression and the rise of Nazism, absorbed most 
of the old socialist and Communist electoral strength. 

Many conservative groups, particularly those which had been involved 
in the status system of the old empire for example, the landed aristoc- 
racy, the teachers, the professional officers, and much of the civil service 
never accepted the Weimar Republic and its universalistic norms. 45 The 

44 Peter Gay, The 'Dilemma of Democratic Socialism: Eduard Bernstein's 
Challenge to Marx (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952), pp. 254- 
255 and passim. See also Arthur Rosenberg, The Birth of the German 
Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1931), pp. 48 ff. 

45 "From 1920 onwards the history of the Weimar Republic was only a rear- 
guard action against the revitalized social forces on which the German state 
structure had been built under Bismarck: Army, Junkers, big industrialists, 
and the higher strata of the Civil Service." J. P. Mayer, Max Weber and 
German Politics (London: Faber and Faber, 1956), p. 64. 

234 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

middle classes wavered between embracing a political system which in- 
corporated the universalistic values that they had long supported and re- 
acting against the challenge to the privileges and the deferential norms 
they retained as part of the socially privileged. The support which both 
the old and new middle classes gave to Nazism in the early 1930's has 
been linked by many observers to the strong German emphasis on ascrip- 
tion and elitism. Faced with a dire economic threat to their status, the 
middle classes turned to the Nazis, who promised a national socialism 
which would restore prosperity and preserve the values of the Stande- 
staat (strong respect for hierarchical rankings) . 

In discussing the pattern variables, I have assumed that the industrial 
economic order requires a greater application of universalistic, specific, 
and achievement criteria than do the political and social orders. Employers 
must deal with workers in terms of these values, and workers, in turn, 
are constrained to secure a stable, universalistic definition of their rights 
in industry. The demand for universalistic treatment in the factory is a 
prime demand of workers in modern society. The demand for universal- 
istic treatment in the political sphere occurs often as part of the struggle 
in the economic order. On the other hand, the middle and upper classes 
tend to be more oriented toward maintaining their privileged position in 
terms of status rather than in economic terms that is, toward enforcing 
the norms inherent in elitism. Hence, a working class which has made 
gains in the economic order will be relatively satisfied, while a middle 
and upper class which feels threatened in its position of status will react 
aggressively. It may be contended that in Weimar Germany the major- 
ity of the workers were relatively moderate politically because they had 
secured access to the economic and political orders, while traditional con- 
servative groupings and the middle classes were disposed to accept mili- 
tant politics in a crisis because their value orientations of elitism and as- 
cription led them to perceive such gains on the part of the workers as a 
threat to their over-all status position and to their sense of "the way things 
ought to be." 

Harry Eckstein argues that the instability of the Weimar Republic was 
a result of the strains between the authoritarian norms which character- 
ized all non-governmental institutions and the democratic patterns of the 
political system: 

The German governmental pattern was . . . one-sidely democratic, 
at any rate if we confine analysis to the level of parliamentary rep- 
resentation and decision-making. . . . On the other hand, social life, 

Values and Democratic Stability 235 

including life in parties and political interest groups, was highly 
authoritarian. . * . Not only were society and polity to some degree 
incongruent; they existed in unprecedented contradiction with one 
another. . . . 

This unalleviated democracy (pure proportional representation, 
strong detailed bill of rights) was superimposed upon a society per- 
vaded by authoritarian relationships and obsessed with authoritarian- 
ism. . . . German family life, German schools, and German business 
firms were all exceedingly authoritarian, German families were dom- 
inated, more often than not, by tyrannical husbands and fathers, 
German schools by tyrannical teachers, German firms by tyrannical 
bosses. 4 

Eckstein does not contend that the Germans as individuals always pre- 
ferred authoritarian politics. Rather, he points to the fact that from the 
first universal suffrage elections in Imperial Germany down to 1928, lib- 
eral, center, and socialist parties secured between 80 and 90 per cent of 
the vote, and that anti-democratic pre-Nazi parties were always in a 
small minority. He seems to suggest that a more authoritarian kind of 
"democratic" regime, such as that of Imperial Germany, would have pro- 
vided a "proper base" for a stable regime. It might be argued, in line with 
the reasoning behind both my own and Eckstein's analyses, that Germany 
could have best evolved into a stable constitutional democracy through 
the gradual growth of a system which retained elitist and monarchical 
forms and strong executive power in the hands of a powerful Chancellor. 
The symbolic retention of legitimate power in the hands of a Kaiser con- 
ceivably might have preserved the allegiance of the middle and upper 
classes to a democratic political system. 

Arguments such as these are impossible to prove, but it may be sug- 
gested that the political history of Sweden illustrates tc what might have 
been" in Germany. In many ways, pre-World War I Swedish social struc- 
ture resembled that of Germany. The Swedish privileged classes strongly 
resisted universal suffrage, and adult suffrage was adopted only in 1909 
for the lower house and in 1921 for the upper one. 47 Swedish social life 
contained many of the same authoritarian patterns that characterized 
Germany's, and Sweden instinctively looked to Germany for intellectual 
and cultural leadership. But Sweden was both small and geographically 
isolated from European wars; it escaped the tensions resulting from the 

46 Eckstein, A Theory of Stable Democracy, pp. 17-18. 

4T Dankwart Rustow, The Politics of Compromise (Princeton, N J.: Princeton 
University Press, 1955), pp. 65-85; Douglas Verney, Parliamentary Reform m 
Sweden (New York: Oxford University Press, 1957), pp. 159^173, 202-214. 

236 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

overthrow of a monarchy after military defeat. Its radical Socialist party 
became moderate and its extreme conservatives and upper class came to 
accept the right of the workers to participate in, and ultimately to domi- 
nate, the polity. But even today, the values of the Swedish status system 
contain strong elements of ascription, elitism, particularism, and diffuse- 

Much of the elitist quality of Swedish life has gradually declined under 
the impact of thirty years of Socialist government. Successful political rule 
by this party, many of whose leaders began life as workers, has undoubt- 
edly weakened the value orientations which sustained elitism. Yet Swedish 
politics remain highly particularistic. For example, Swedish telephone 
books still list individuals alphabetically 'within occupational groups. So 
to look up a Swede in the phone book, you must know his occupation. 
He is still a doctor, printer, or carpenter before he is a person. 

To a considerable extent the egalitarian changes reflect conscious poli- 
cies of the governing Socialists. Thus the Swedish educational system has 
been changing, from one similar to that of Britain and other parts of Eu- 
rope with their class-stratified divisions of secondary schools modern, 
technical, and grammar to "single-type comprehensive schools, into 
which all the existing schools are to be incorporated. . . . The eventual 
aim is a 9 year school, with differentiation beginning in a very mild 
form in the 6th year, and only taking shape in 3 different 9th classes [at 
age 16] (preparation for higher education; general finishing class with 
mainly theoretical bent; and preparatory vocational training with some 
theoretical courses)." 48 

C. A. R. Crosland, who sees class values in his own England as little 
changed in spite of the great structural reforms introduced by the Labour 
government of 1945-1951, twenty years of full employment, and the wel- 
fare state, has pointed to at least one of the major conditions required for 
a political impact on class values in a democracy: 

Political power can also have an influence on class attitudes, but in a 
democracy only, I think, if one party remains in office -for a long 
time, . . . 

Thus in Britain, before the war, when Conservative Governments 
seemed the natural thing, collective feelings of superiority and in- 

48 Perry Anderson, "Sweden," New Left Review, No. 7, (1961) pp. 6-7. For 
other objective factors which have served to reduce hierarchical differentiation 
and class tension in Sweden, see the second part of Anderson's article, New 
Left Review, No. 9 (1961), pp. 34-35. 

Values and Democratic Stability 237 

feriority were intensified by the belief that political power was an 
additional, semi-permanent attribute of a class which already ap- 
peared to possess all the other attributes of a ruling class. Conversely 
in Sweden, the fact that a Socialist Government now seems the 
natural order of things has a profound effect in weakening collective 
class feelings, since at least the attribute of political power is differ- 
ently located from the other attributes of the "upper class." 

It creates, in other words, a definite "scatter," and prevents a con- 
centration of "top-class attributes". . , . Thus political power coun- 
terbalances the influence of other class determinants, and hence di- 
minishes the likelihood of strong, coagulated class feelings. But this 
will occur only if the period of one-party rule is sufficiently pro- 
longed to cause a definite adjustment in psychological attitudes. 49 

Evidence secured in a Swedish survey study confirms the thesis that 
long tenure in office by a workers' party may modify the traditional as- 
sumptions concerning the inter-relationship of different indicators of high 
position. Those interviewed were asked, "Which class do you think is the 
most influential in our society today?" The responses indicate that Swedes 
who perceive their status as **working class" are most likely to believe that 
their class is the most influential one than self-defined "middle-class" in- 
dividuals believe is the case with the middle class. And to explain this phe- 
nomenon of consensus across class lines concerning the greater power of 
the working class, Torgny Segerstedt comments: "Perhaps I ought to re- 
mind you that we have had a Labour government in office in Sweden for 
more than 20 years." 50 

To return to Germany briefly, major changes in its value system, which 
weaken ascriptive values, appear to have been developing since the end 
of the last war. Two of the major bulwarks of ascriptive and particular- 
istic values in the society no longer exist or have been weakened: the 
army and the Prussian aristocracy. The major regions of Germany pre- 
viously dominated by these values (most of old Prussia) are now in Russia, 
Poland, or Communist East Germany. What is now West Germany is 
largely composed of areas which even before World War I were willing 
to admit the working class into the political club. In addition, the upheav- 

* 9 CrosIand, The Future of Socialism, pp. 181-182. (Emphasis mine.) 
50 Torgny Segerstedt, "An Investigation of Class-Consciousness among Office 
Employees and Workers in Swedish Factories," Transactions of the Second 
World Congress of Sociology (London: International Sociological Association, 
1954), VoL H, pp. 300-301, 305. 

238 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

als of Nazism and World War II have upset the old German class struc- 
ture and have reduced the significance of ascriptive elements. 51 

Yet ascriptive, elitist values are far from dead in West Germany. To 
some extent, the society still emphasizes social origins as a determinant of 
status, and men are still reacted to in terms of status position professors, 
engineers, industrialists, and others are members of an elite. While 
workers are part of the body politic and not outside it, they have not 
secured an end to a diffuse emphasis on class. The continued significance 
of elitist values has been pointed up in a recent study of the German 
entrepreneurial class. Heinz Hartmann suggests that this stratum has laid 
claim to diffuse respect: "[Mjanagement does not claim elite status with 
respect to a specific task, area, or group but rather in relation to the 
total society." 52 In effect, the German Unternehmer (entrepreneurs) 
have laid explicit claim to the deference and authority once received by 
now decimated classes: 

Management's drive toward ascendancy quite frequently is justified 
by reference to the death or incapacitation of previous elite groups. 
When Winschuh, for instance, addressed a conference of Young 
Unternehmer in 1950, he pointed out that "due to the destruction of 
old elites, the importance of the Unternehmer for the formation of 
a new elite group has increased." He reminded his audience of the 
"mass annihilation and expatriation of the Elbian feudatory" and 
called the attention of his listeners to "the decimation of numerous 
families of officers and civil service officials." . . . All of this led up to 
the finding that "society needs more authority in leadership, more 
determination and speed in administration" than it enjoys at the time 
and that the Unternehmer were willing and able to provide all of 
this. 53 

51 There are relatively few men of aristocratic or Junker origin in the 
various elites of contemporary Germany as contrasted with Weimar or 
Imperial times. **In the German Federal Republic, the . . . barriers of class 
have become greatly simplified, compared to the past. ... In terms of social 
origins, all elites are now predominantly middle-class, with the exception 
only of the SPD [Social Democrats] and trade union leaders. The aristocracy 
has largely disappeared. . . . For the average of ... twelve elites, 70 per cent 
are of middle-class background, while only 8 per cent bear aristocratic names 
and 10 per cent indicate some working-class background. . . ." Karl W. 
Deutsch and Lewis J. Edinger, Germany Rejoins the Powers (Stanford, 
Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1959), p. 125; see also p. 139. 

52 Heinz Hartmann, Authority and Organization in German Management 
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1959), p. 11. 

Ibid., p. 242. 

Values and Democratic Stability 239 

The West German system is probably moving toward the British or the 
Swedish model There is also much more authoritarianism or perhaps, 
more accurately, executive power in Bonn than there was in Weimar. 
Chancellor Adenauer has played a role much more comparable to that of 
Bismarck in the Imperial system than to any of the Weimar chancellors, 
and elections have been fought to a considerable degree as contests for 
the Chancellorship. 54 Whether Germany will actually maintain itself as 
a stable democracy, only time will tell. Particularly crucial will be the 
resolution of the challenge to the values of the privileged classes when 
the working-class-based Social Democrats actually move toward national 
office. 55 

Social Change and Political Stability 

One problem faced by all developing societies is that the legitimacy of 
the existing distribution of resources and privileges, and of the political 
decision-making process itself, comes under severe tension. A new eco- 
nomic class usually achieves high position by the use of methods which 
have been traditionally defined as inappropriate or illegitimate. The so- 
cial system, in turn, may adjust by incorporating the new class into the 
ascriptive elites, or by insulating the old ascriptive elites from the new 
ones (for example, by reserving for the old elite certain privileged 
positions, often in government, the military, religion, and education). 
The first course maintains the unity of high status strata, and augments 
the tendency of the lowly to accept the existing structure of authority 
as legitimate. The "insulative" course precipitates a reactionary-radical 
polarization, quickly rationalized in uncompromisable, absolute value 

The "incorporative" response and its effects are illustrated best in 

54 See Eckstein, A Theory of Stable Democracy, p. 37. 

55 Contemporary West Germany, of course, continues to differ from Britain 
and Sweden, which retain deferential elements in their status system, by not 
being a monarchy. This, as I have tried to demonstrate in Political Man (pp. 
78-79) , is not an unimportant difference. To create legitimacy is much more 
difficult than to transfer the symbolic legitimacy of the older political system 
to a new one, as is done in monarchical democracies. I will discuss some of 
the sharp differences between the Bonn Republic and its predecessors in 
Chapter 9. It should be stressed, however, that a variety of public opinion 
polls and studies of elite opinion indicate that attachment to democratic 
values is extremely fragile in Germany. For detailed summaries and discussion 
of such data, see Deutsch and Edinger, Germmy Rejoins the Powers. 

240 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

British parliamentary history. 56 As we have already seen, the articulate 
leadership of the bourgeoisie, and later of labor, were given access to 
political decision making, and were then incorporated into the ranks of 
the Whig party and the Liberal and Labour parties respectively. Not only 
did the old ascriptive elites admit those of achieved position into the 
formal institutional structure, but they acculturated the newcomers to 
many ascriptive orientations. 67 Hence the House of Lords has been able to 

86 The English sociologist A. H. Halsey has well described the "incorporative" 
process in the class structure of Great Britain: "Perhaps the most outstanding 
characteristic of the English class structure historically has been the remark- 
able absorptive capacity, the judicious and un-Marxist Fabianism of the 
upper classes. The culture of the gentry and of higher officialdom never 
quite lost control of the rising provincial centers. If the successful northern 
businessmen were themselves excluded from entry into 'the establishment,' 
their sons could cross the social barrier by southward movement through 
the public schools and Oxford, by movement of religious adherence from 
Chapel to Church, and by occupational movement from trade to profession 
or from a northern works to a London central office." "British Universities 
and Intellectual Life," in A. H. Halsey, Jean Floud and C. A. Anderson, eds, 
Education, Economy, and Society, pp. 506-507. 

Philip Toynbee has suggested that the reason that the British " bourgeois 
. . . never emerged as the ruling class was that each individual who had 
risen high enough was immediately transformed into a member of the upper 
class. Or at least he was put into a position from which he could transform 
his son* The age-long operation was performed with a fantastic degree of 
instinctive skill, which was exhibited quite as much by each successive 
generation of qualifying New Men as by the ever-changing never-changing 
class to which they had successfully aspired. What mattered to both was to 
preserve the ethos, not the personnel If, at any point, the middle class had 
simply become the ruling class, then a genuine social revolution would have 
been achieved and a whole new set of values and behavior patterns would 
have supplanted the old ones.'* Philip Toynbee, "The Governing Class," The 
Twentieth Century, 162 (1957), p. 298, 

57 Bagehot well recognized the importance of these processes for the polity: 
"In all countries new wealth is ready to worship old wealth, if old wealth 
will only let it, and I need not say that in England new wealth is eager in its 
worship. . . . Rank probably in no country whatever has so much 'market' 
value as it has in England just now. Of course there have been many countries 
in which certain old families, whether rich or poor, were worshipped by 
whole populations with a more intense and poetic homage; but I doubt if 
there has ever been any in which all old families and all titled families received 
more ready observance from those who were their equals, perhaps their 
superiors, in wealth, their equals in culture, and their inferiors only in 
descent and rank. The possessors of the 'material' distinctions of life . . . 
rush to worship those who possess the ewzmaterial distinctions. Nothing can be 

Values and Democratic Stability 241 

withstand the influx of bourgeoisie and kbor into the political process, 
and one is presented with the interesting phenomenon of the Labour peer. 

France provides an example of the "insuktive" response and its effects. 
The mcien regime provided virtually no institutional access for the rising 
bourgeoisie to political decision making, much less incorporation into the 
ranks of the decision makers. A potent, hostile counter-elite was thus 
formed which, in collusion with disaffected elements of the nobility, pro- 
vided the leadership for the Revolution of 1789. This carnage did not, 
however, mark the end of the insulative response. Rather, the antagonis- 
tic role into which the aristocracy was cast produced a new and durable 
counter-elite of the right. Moreover, the bourgeoisie themselves adopted 
an insulative attitude toward aspiring kbor elites. The rising bourgeoisie 
did not absorb the noblesse oblige ethic of the traditional aristocracies. 
They were thus prone not to feel responsible for the welfare of the lower 
orders just at a time when those classes were undergoing severe material 
deprivation and social dislocation; no particularistic protection was pro- 
vided, but particularistic loyalty was demanded. The lower classes, in turn, 
were increasingly alienated from the system. In this manner, France ar- 
rived at the difficult position of having counter-elites of both the left and 
the right, each with a considerable following in the electorate, and with 
neither according legitimacy to the political process as such. 

The German experience also failed to develop an "integrated" response; 
it shared features of both the British and French experiences. A strong 
business class arose, but it was unable to reach the pinnacle of a society in 
which the monarchy and nobility resisted accepting it as a partner in 
government or as an equal in status. As Roy Lewis and Rosemary Stewart 
described the situation: 

The growth of capitalism in Germany was affected, to a far greater 
extent than in Britain or France, by a rigid structure of class and 
status. . . . 

Capitalism, technology and business came to Germany in various 
ways. But the structure of a society based on status and still 
divided between Catholic and Protestant states was so strong that 
it had to shape itself largely to the form of the society. . . . 

Bismarck made the mold into which German business was poured 
in the last half of the nineteenth century. He broke the out-of-date 

more politically useful than such homage, if it be skillfully used; no folly can 
be idler than to repel and reject it." The English Constitution (New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1952), pp. 277-278. (Emphasis in original.) 

242 Democracy in Comparative 

medievalism of the Junker (land-owning) squires, but maintained 
the autocracy of their king (and later emperor). . . . However, top 
businessmen did not find themselves, as in England, at the apex of 
society. Status remained decisive, and the army retained its caste 
privileges. The successful businessman might in time be allowed to 
put "von" in front of his name, but he could not aspire to become 
a full part of the nobility; and the purchase of a great estate did not 
(as, again, it did in England) provide his children with a springboard 
into die ruling circles. 68 

The German upper class, as represented by Bismarck and the Kaiser, 
sought to make the workers as a class loyal to the polity by "protecting" 
them against the bourgeoisie through a variety of social welfare legislation* 
The aristocracy, in fact, saw the workers as potential allies against the 
power and status claims of the 'Vulgar" business classes, and perceived 
their own actions on behalf of the workers as reflecting the morality of 
noblesse oblige, of the responsibility toward their inferiors of those born 
to rule. In a real sense, Bismarck and Disraeli reflected similar reactions by 
the political spokesmen of comparable strata. The Germans differed from 
the British, however, in that they refused to "incorporate" the leaders 
of the new classes, in particular the workers, into the political process. 

To give an adequate account of the differing ways in which nations 
with ascriptive traditions met the tensions of entering a commercial and 
industrial era requires reference to many unique factors. 59 Much of the 

58 Lewis and Stewart, The Managers, pp. 166-168. 

w Schumpeter explicitly addressed himself to this problem, but curiously 
put the responsibility for the differences between British and German political 
systems on the behavior of one man, Bismarck: "But, why was it that the 
English methods and tactics did not prevail in Germany? . . . The fatal 
mistake was really Bismarck's. It consisted in the attempt, explicable only on 
the hypothesis that he completely misconceived the nature of the problem, 
at suppressing socialist activities by coercion. . . .** Capitalism, Socialism, and 
Democracy (New York: Harper & Bros^ 1950), pp. 341, 343. 

Writing in 1917, Max Weber saw the failure of Bismarck to share political 
power with the various opposition parties as a prime cause of the latter's 
inability to function as a responsible and loyal opposition: "Bismarck left 
behind as a political heritage a nation without any political education. . . . 
Above all he left behind a nation without any political will, accustomed 
to allow the great statesman at its head to look after its policy for it More- 
over ... he left a nation accustomed to submit, under the label of con- 
stitutional monarchy, to anything which was decided for it . . ." Cited in 
Mayer, Max Weber and German Politics, p. 78; see also Edward Shils, "The 

Values and Democratic Stability 243 

difference between northern and southern Europe is related to the success 
or failure of the Protestant Reformation. Britain's position as an island 
was important because, among other things, it eased the problem of 
national unification and national defense, and reduced the role of the 
military as a major factor affecting the special course of its economic 
and political development. Also the historic timing with which different 
nations entered the industrial age or were unified politically cannot be 
ignored. However, on the level of the specific variables with which this 
book is concerned, one factor would seem to stand out, and that is the 
cluster of variables which produced "open" or "closed" aristocracies. 
In seeking to account for the differences in the political adaptation of 
Britain and France to the tensions occasioned by modernization, Tocque- 
ville found the key precisely in the variations between the British and 
continental upper classes. As he put it: 

I have always been surprised that a circumstance that renders Eng- 
land so different from all other modern nations and which alone 
explains the peculiarities of her laws, history, and traditions has not 
received more attention. 

. . . England was the only country in which the caste system had 
been totally abolished, not merely modified. Nobility and com- 
moners joined forces in business enterprises, entered the same pro- 
fessions, and what is still more significant intermarried. The 
daughter of the greatest lord in the land could marry a "new" man 
without the least compunction. , . . 

The reason why the English middle class, far from being actively 
hostile to the aristocracy, inclined to fraternize with it, was not so 
much that the aristocracy kept open house as that its barriers were 
ill defined; not so much that entrance into it was easy as that you 
never knew when you had got there. The result was that everyone 
who hovered on its outskirts nursed the agreeable illusion that he 
belonged to it and joined forces with it in the hope of acquiring 
prestige or some practical advantage under its aegis. 60 

Intellectuals in the Political Development of New States" (mimeographed, 
1962), p. 45. 

Addressing himself to the same problem in terms of why Britain suc- 
ceeded in avoiding major class tension, a French historian also credits the 
insight of individuals. G. E. Lavan urges that England avoided a revolutionary 
working class because of **the practical intelligence at the right moment 
of some Conservative [Disraeli, Randolph Churchill, Joseph Chamberlain] 
and Liberal [Asquith, Lloyd George] leaders." Partis politiques et realties 
sociales (Paris: Armand Colin, 1953), p. 95. 

60 Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution (New 
York: Anchor Books, 1955), pp. 82, 8&-S9. 

244 'Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

The British aristocracy obviously was not inherently more sophisticated 
than the French or German, but its structural position made it more 
adaptive to a changing class structure. This situation has been well sum- 
marized by Robert Ulich in a discussion of Britain as she entered the 
modern age: 

Despite terrific social contrasts between the upper and middle classes 
on die one hand and the poor on the other, there was no exclusive 
ruling caste as in France up to 1789 and again in the latter periods 
of reaction, and as in Germany up to the twentieth century. 
Greater mobility . . . was secured by the English custom of succes- 
sion, or primogeniture, according to which the title of the parent is 
transmitted only to the eldest son of a noble family, while die other 
children become commoners. In contrast, in France and Germany 
every descendant of a nobleman, whether male or female, inherits the 
title. Until the modern democratic revolutions the mere name made 
the bearer a privileged person. Intermarriage with commoners meant 
degradation; even scholarship could only be a hobby. Only through 
some middleman could the nobleman go into business. . . . [T]his 
aloofness from modern occupations involved a kind of glorified 
poverty. There remained nothing but to fight desperately for the 
monopoly of officers' positions in the army and the higher offices 
of the civil and diplomatic service. . . . 61 

Unencumbered by a tide and seeking ways to regain a firm claim to 
high status, the "younger sons" of British aristocracy entered the new 
occupations and married with the new families much more rapidly than 
their continental brothers. And since many of the "new men" and their 
families often had family connections with the aristocracy, the problem 
of "integrating" the new and old elites was nowhere near as difficult as in 
countries where the aristocracy sought to differentiate itself as much as 
possible from the corrupting contact with the 'Vulgar" moneymakers. 

61 Robert Ulich, Education of Nations (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University 
Press, 1961), p. 95. "The great distinction between the English aristocracy 
and any other has always been that, whereas abroad every member of a 
noble family is noble, in England none are noble except the head of the 
family. . . . The descendants of younger sons, who on the Continent would 
all be counts or barons, in England have no tides and sit even below knights. 
Furthermore, the younger sons and daughters of the very richest lords receive, 
by English custom, but litde money from their families, barely enough to 
live on. The sons are given the same education as their eldest brother and 
then turned out." Nancy Mitford, "The English Aristocracy," in Nancy 
Mitford, ed., Noblesse Oblige (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1959), pp. 

Values and Democratic Stability 245 

Nor was it [in England], in contrast to Germany, considered a sort 
of high treason at least after the middle of the nineteenth century 
if a member of the privileged group joined the masses in their 
struggle for better conditions. Leftists have come from all groups 
of English society including graduates from Eton; they have pro- 
vided an organic exchange of ideas, however controversial; and they 
have supplied labor with men whose background and experience 
gave them that sense of social security, grace, and freedom that 
political leaders in other countries, having come from the working 
class, so often lacked. 62 

Up to this point the discussion has focused on the way in which 
ascriptive values have been handled in establishing who should have the 
right to rule in a political democracy. There is, however, an alternative 
basis of gaining support for a new system: effectiveness, or demonstrated 
and successful achievements. But as a sole foundation for legitimacy, it is 
tenuous. Any government can become involved in crises; major group- 
ings will oppose specific policies, sometimes to the point of alienation. 
Consequently any government which persists must have ascriptive 
grounds for support i.e., a sense of traditional legitimacy. Where a 
polity does not have such legitimacy to begin with, as in the case of new 
states or post-revolutionary governments, it is inherently unstable. If the 
basic value pattern of the society includes a strong emphasis on ascription, 
new governments will find it difficult to rule by any means except force. 
Only where the value pattern stresses achievement will the political 
system, like other institutions and positions, be evaluated by achieve- 
ment criteria. Thus the success of the American Republic in establishing 
a post-revolutionary democratic legitimacy may be related to the strength 
of achievement values in the society. 

These analyses suggest that the persistence of ascriptive and partic- 
ularistic norms is compatible with democracy only in societies which 
have retained ascriptive legitimacy for their polity, that is, in monarchies. 68 
Where such a traditional support is missing, the only way to create a 
legitimate regime is through long-term effectiveness, that is achievement. 

62 Ulich, Education of Nations, p. 96. 

63 For detailed analyses of these problems in the new states, see Edward 
Shils, "Political Development in the New States," Comparative Studies in 
Society and History, 2 (I960), pp. 265-292, 379-411; S. N. Eisenstadt, 
"Soziale Entwicklung und Politische Stabilitat in Nichtwestlichen Gesell- 
schaften," Koelner Zeitschrift fur Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 12 (1960), 
pp. 189-203, and Essays on Sociological Aspects of Political and Economic 
Development (The Hague: Mouton and Co., 1961). 

246 Democracy m Comparative Perspective 

This is a difficult method at best. To succeed, it requires rapid change in 
fundamental values. A look at new societies which have attempted to 
achieve political legitimacy while retaining strong ascriptive elements 
indicates how problematic this is. (Such nations include most of Latin 
America, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, and many others.) 

A genuine problem for achievement or effectiveness as a basis for 
legitimacy arises in the contemporary "new states," almost all of which, 
like the Latin American republics in the early nineteenth century, lack 
traditional legitimacy. The problem of ascriptive and particularistic 
values apart, the need for effectiveness poses a real dilemma, because in 
contemporary times "effectiveness" is apt to consist of a demand for the 
equitable distribution of a rapidly increasing social product. But in the 
developing areas there are formidable obstacles to such effectiveness: the 
economy is primitive and unbalanced, the bulk of the population is 
impoverished, capital is lacking, political experience and skills are rare, 
and much of the available store of political and entrepreneurial experi- 
ence is distributed among individuals associated with the former colonial 
masters. And as Weber and others have pointed out, rapid economic 
growth may often engender violent class and political conflict, rather 
than faith in the social system. 64 To the extent, therefore, that democratic 
rulers who kck legitimacy are responsible for a rapid increase in the pace 
of economic transformation, to that extent they may also serve to under- 
mine the capacity of the system to receive generalized support. By foster- 
ing rapid transformation, the new political system provokes dislocations in 
such basic social relationships as the extended kinship system, the emphasis 
on mutual aid within pre-industrial communities, and traditional orienta- 
tions to work and time. 

In applying these considerations to the prospects for political and 
economic development in the "new" and/or "underdeveloped" states, it 
is important to recognize that the now economically developed, stable 
democracies were able to develop either in societies which for the most 
part possessed traditional legitimacy, or in an achievement oriented 
society like the United States which also had widespread and relatively 
equitable distribution of land ownership for much of its early history. 
In addition, these societies did not have to counter a (partly artificially 
that is, politically stimulated) rising "level of expectation" which was 
beyond the capacity of the economy or polity. As it is clearly difficult to 
generate support in the new states on grounds of either ascription or 

64 H. H. Gerth and G W. Mills, eds., From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology 
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), pp. 193-194. 

Values and Democratic Stability 247 

achievement, the chances for stable democracy in any Western sense 
are slim. Communism and other forms of totalitarian rule apart, the 
general alternatives available are either particularistic appeals to the 
existing ascriptive solidarities family, village, tribe, religion, linguistic 
unit, or caste an approach which is obviously dysfunctional from the 
standpoint of developing a consensus in new territorial political systems, 
or charismatic domination by party or leader, as pursued in such coun- 
tries as Mexico, Ghana, or Tunisia. 

Value Differences, 
Absolute or Relative: 
The English-Speaking 


As has been remarked, to compare nations or societies which are 
highly similar in basic values may be even more fruitful analytically than 
to contrast those which are very different As a final illustration of this 
mode of inquiry, I will briefly expand the analysis of the stable democ- 
racies to include Australia and Canada, nations which like the United 
States are former colonies of Great Britain, which settled a relatively open 
continental frontier, and are today continent-spanning federal states. 
There is general agreement that, on a world-wide comparative scale, these 
two large, predominantly English-speaking states resemble the United 
States in stressing equalitarianism, achievement, universalism, and specific- 
ity. 1 But if Canada and Australia share these basic values with the United 

illustration of the relativity of such comparative statements may be 
found in an interesting book on England by an Indian, Nirad C. Chaudhuri, 
A Passage to England (London: Readers Union, 1960). Many of his com- 
ments on England are similar to those made about the United States by 
visiting Europeans. For Chaudhuri, England is the model of an achievement- 
oriented and universalistic society. Elie Halevy was well aware of the prob- 
lem which this posed for a foreign student of England: "[WJhatever the 
differences between English and continental life, we must beware of exag- 
gerating their importance. To be sure, the Frenchman feels himself in a 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 249 

States, they differ with it also, and it is these differences which sharply 
illustrate the way in which even relatively slight variations in value 
patterns help account for important differences among the stable and 
highly developed democracies. 

The very tentative rankings which may be given to the positions of 
the four major, predominantly English-speaking democracies on the four 
pattern-variable dimensions are presented in Table V below. It is 
obviously extremely difficult to be precise about such variations, and these 
should be considered as at best an informed guess. 

Table V 

Tentative Estimates of Relative Rankings of the Four English- 
Speaking Democracies According to Strength of Certain Pattern 
Variables (Rankings according to First Term in Polarity) 

United States Australia Canada Great Britain 

Elitism Equalitarianism 




















According to my estimates, Australia differs from the United States 
in being slighdy more equalitarian, but less achievement oriented, uni- 
versalistic, and specific. It also seems less universalistic and more equali- 
tarian than Canada, but it is difficult to estimate the differences on the 
other two polarities. Canada differs somewhat from the United States on 
all four dimensions of equalitarianism, achievement, universalism, and 
specificity, while Britain in turn is less oriented toward these values than 

To demonstrate that such differences really exist would involve a 

foreign land when he crosses from Calais to Dover, but how insignificant 
the difference would seem to an Asiatic traveller from Calcutta or Pekin. 
Between Latin Catholicism and Anglo-Saxon Protestantism the gulf seems 
wide, but what is the distance which divides European Christianity as a 
whole from Brahminism?" History of the English People in the Nineteenth 
Century. (London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1961), Vol. I, p. xiii. David Landes 
reports that his as yet unfinished study of writings about England by eight- 
eenth-century French travelers indicates that they viewed English customs 
and values in much the same light as visiting Englishmen have regarded the 
United States. 

250 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

considerable research program. However, I have drawn on a considerable 
number of writings which have argued and given some evidence that these 
differences are as they are presented here and, for the time being, we must 
depend on such impressionistic evidence to support the discussion to fol- 
low. In this chapter, I will first seek to account for the differences by- 
indicating variations in the social development of these countries which 
presumably created and sustained structures carrying these values, and 
then "derive" differences in their political systems which seem rekted to 
value patterns. 

The Canadian pattern, as has been noted earlier, seems to reflect the 
fact that Canada always has been more conservative than the United 
States, that its early political history from 1776 on involved the defeat 
of radical reform, and that consequently some of the traditionalist "Tory" 
values which declined in the United States continued in Canada. The 
Canadian historian Frank Underbill has described the situation in the 
following terms: 

The mental climate of English Canada in its early formative years 
was determined by men who were fleeing from the practical appli- 
cation of the doctrines that all men are born equal and are endowed 
by their creator with certain unalienable rights amongst which are 
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ... In Canada we have 
no revolutionary tradition; and our historians, political scientists, 
and philosophers have assiduously tried to educate us to be proud 
of this fact. . . ? 

It is true, of course, that Canadian frontier conditions were just as 
destructive of traditional social relations as were those on the American 
frontier. <c Distinctions of social class found little recognition in the 
pioneer communities where the demands of neighborhood association 
pressed so heavily upon the inhabitants." 3 Pressures toward egalitarianism 

2 Frank H. Underbill, In Search of Canadian Liberalism (Toronto: The Mac- 
nrillan Co. of Canada, 1960), p. 12. He goes on to point out that, while 
Jacksonian Democracy triumphed in the United States in the 1830's and 
"swept away most of the old aristocratic survivals and made a strong attack 
on the new plutocratic forces," its equivalent in Canada, the movements of 
Papineau in Quebec and Mackenzie in Ontario, were defeated and discredited. 
Hence in Canada, unlike the United States, the "social pyramid . . . was not 
upset." pp. 12-33. 

S S. D. Clark, The Canadian Community (Toronto: University of Toronto 
Press, 1962), p. 65. 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 251 

and individualism resulted; but there were counter forces which pre- 
vented individualism of the American type from becoming the accepted 
way of life on the Canadian frontier- 
Canada had to be constantly on its guard against the expansionist 
tendencies of the United States. It could not leave its frontier com- 
munities unprotected, or autonomous. Law and order in the form of the 
centrally controlled North West Mounted Police moved into frontier 
settlements along with the settlers. This contributed to the establish- 
ment of a greater tradition of respect for the mstituti&ns of kw and order 
on the Canadian as compared to the American frontier. At the same 
time, frontier egalitarianism and individualism were played down in 
Canada because they were linked to American values and might con- 
ceivably undermine national integrity: 

Efforts to strengthen the political ties of Empire or of nation led 
to deliberate attempts, through land grants and political preferments, 
to create and strengthen an aristocracy in the colonies . . . and later 
in a less obvious fashion, in the Canadian nation. The democratic 
movement it was felt was liable to draw Canadian people closer to 
their neighbors to the south; and a privileged upper class was a 
bulwark of loyalty and conservatism. 4 

One consequence of the value system which emerged is that Canadians 
have always been less intolerant of economic inequality and social strati- 
fication. 5 Horatio Alger has never been a Canadian hero. As the Canadian 
sociologist Kaspar Naegele put it in his excellent discussion of his society: 

[T]here is less emphasis in Canada on equality than there is in the 
United States. ... In Canada there seems to be a greater acceptance 
of limitation, of hierarchical patterns. There seems to be less opti- 
mism, less faith in the future, less willingness to risk capital or 

. 194. 

6 A sociological study made in the mid-1930's in English-speaking Montreal 
based on a small sample of "seventy people, who were thought to be rep- 
resentative," reports that the "notion of a social elite, of a culture based upon 
the traditions and ideals of aristocratic Britain, reappears over and over again 
in the interviews." These attitudes, the authors note, are probably not charac- 
teristic of Canadian opinion much west of Montreal. S. D. Clark, assisted by 
C. A. Dawson and E. C. Hughes, "Opinions and Attitudes in English-Speaking 
Quebec," in H. F. Angus, ed., Canada and Her Great Neighbor (Toronto: 
Ryerson Press, 1938), pp. 383-389. 

252 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

reputation. In contrast to America, Canada is a country of greater 
caution, reserve, and restraint. 6 

But if there is agreement that Canada lies somewhere between America 
and Britain as concerns equalitarianism (although it is closer to America), 7 
this is not the case with Australia. The scanty available evidence or, 
more properly speaking, impressions would suggest that equalitarianism 
is stronger in Australia than in Canada or the United States, but that 
universaJism is weaker in Australia than in the United States, particularly 
among the workers. The particularistic and equalitarian value of "mate- 
ship,** the "uncritical acceptance of reciprocal obligations to provide 
companionship and material or ego support as required," is viewed by 
many Australians as contradictory to the value of "success-ship," (achieve- 
ment) although many feel that the latter value is "gradually gaining 
ascendency . . ," 8 A number of commentators have recently called 

6 Kaspar Naegele, "Canadian Society: Some Reflections," in Bernard BUshen, 
et al., eds M Canadian Society (Toronto: Macmillan, 1961), p. 27. (Emphases in 
original.) This article is the best effort to sum up the general value system of 
Canada. Naegele argues strongly for the thesis that Canada on many matters 
lies "in the middle between America and England," and that it both accepts 
and rejects various aspects of the English and American models. 

7 Some of the flavor of the social differences between Canada and the United 
States which reflect the greater strength of traditionalist and conservative val- 
ues in the former country have been well summed up by an Australian histo- 
rian who spent some time in Canada studying its values and attitudes: "I con- 
sider it not unfair to suggest, however, that if some Canadians think some 
Americans brash and loud, most Americans think Canadians generally are not 
only quiet and standoffish on occasion but also let's be frank about it, rather 
dull and often very drab. Even an overseas visitor to North America may detect 
the contrast with the friendly, talkative habits of the curious American which 
he finds among reserved Canadians in trains, in cafes, and even in some private 
homes. American women, moreover, find a sharp contrast in the apparent 
readiness of their Canadian sisters to leave public life in many forms to their 
husbands and to their brothers." Fred Alexander, Canadians and Foreign Policy 
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1960), p. 121. 

8 Ronald Taft and Kenneth F. Walker, "Australia," in Arnold M. Rose, ed., 
The Institutions of Advanced Societies (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota 
Press, 1958), pp. 144-145. These two Australian social psychologists sum up 
Australian values as being militandy equalitarian, "set in the background of 
politico-economic class consciousness. . . . These equalitarian attitudes have 
taken the form of militant attempts to eliminate the material and prestige 
liabilities of the working class. . . . Thus a high value is placed on activities 
aimed at protecting and promoting the standing of the *underdog* by abusing 
privileged or would-be privileged persons. Although, as we have seen, middle- 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 253 

attention to what they describe as the "Americanization" of Australia, by 
which they mean "the growth of competitiveness and the success ethic." 9 
It may be, therefore, that Tocqueville's proposition that cqualitarianism 
demands an emphasis on competition, that the absence of status barriers 
presses men toward achievement, may turn out to be valid for Australia. 
Certainly, the growth of facilities for higher education in Australia, dis- 
cussed below, suggests that Australians may be losing their disdain for 
"success-ship." But whatever the facts are concerning the relative em- 
phasis on achievement in contemporary Australia, there still seems to be 
general agreement that it stands out in its commitment to egalitarian 
social relations. For example, a visiting Englishwoman observes: 

The Australian concern, at least with the semblance of equality, is 
deep rooted and probably accounts, for instance, for the fact that 
it is the only western country which long resisted the noxious habit 
of tipping. . . . [I]n 1884 Francis Adams whose book The Austra- 
lians was movingly perceptive was emphasizing the same quality. 
"This is a true republic," he said, "the truest, I take it, in the world 
In England the average man feels he is an inferior; in America he 
feels he is superior; in Australia he feels he is an equal. Here the 
people is neither servile nor insolent, but only shows respect for 
itself by its respect for others." 10 

And she also points to the continued difference in attitudes toward 
work and achievement in Australia and the United States: 

In America there is a drive to work which exists quite apart from the 
incentive of material comforts. Perhaps it is a legacy from the 
Puritan heritage but, whatever the reason may be, the American 
has a compulsive attitude to work itself. The powerful big business 
executive in America does not relax even when he has reached the 
top of his profession. . . . 

class Australians avoid identifying themselves as workers, they nonetheless 
typically share this militant equalitarianism against authority or prestige fig- 
ures . . . Thus the middle class, by and large, supports the welfare state, main- 
tains the right of workers to strike and to look after their own interests, and 
eschews the servility associated with certain necessary occupational roles. Aus- 
tralians are poor at providing personal service and are reluctant to demand it." 

9 Jeanne Mackenzie, Australian Paradox (London: Macgibbon and Kee, 1962), 
p. 8. 

10 Ibid., p. 102. 

254 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

An Australian is not concerned with work for its own sake. He 
will fight on a union basis for shorter hours and more pay, but he 
isn't interested in increasing his output in order to meet bigger 
demands. He would prefer to reduce his needs in order that they 
may be fulfilled. 11 

Frederick Eggleston argues that "in Australia, there is little respect for 
wealth as such. ... It is harder for an industrial magnate to enter politics 
than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. . . . The wealthy 
classes have never provided leaders or shown the community any guidance 
in political matters. 12 

A report by an Australian professor of education on the school system 
of his country complains that the equalitarian values and behavior pat- 
tern built into the school systems prevent the emergence of any concern 
for leadership. Compare the comments on the British educational system 
cited earlier with these statements about the Sydney school system: 

The almost century-old tradition of equalitarianism militates against 
class leadership of any kind. . . . Nowhere, thus, in his education 
does he [the young Sydney citizen] receive inspiration and en- 
couragement to strive for a position of leadership in the com- 
munity. . . . 

The general effect in secondary education here appears to have 
been a blurring of distinctions between different secondary schools 
[public and private], . . . The tendency of the system appears to be 
towards the elimination of distinctions between schools and thus the 
elimination of characteristics, in so far as schools can provide them, 
distinctive of an upper class which has special knowledge, attitude, 
or skills built into it by the schools. 13 

Leslie Lipson accounts for the differences between Australia (and New 
Zealand) and the mother country by the fact that nations which were 
settled "in large part by representatives of the laboring and lower middle 

11 Ibid., pp. 107-108. 

12 Frederick W. Eggleston, "The Australian Nation," in George Caiger, ed., 
The Australian Way of Life (London: Heinemann, 1953), p. 11; see also A. P. 
Rowe, If the Gown Fits (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1960), pp. 
59-67; and J. D. B. Miller, Australian Government and Politics (London: 
Duckworth, 1954), pp. 22-24. 

18 W. F, Cornell, "Education and Social Mobility in Australia, Transactions of 
the Third World Congress of Sociology (London: International Sociological 
Association, 1954), VoL V, pp. 75-76. 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 255 

classes could be expected to react instinctively against any whiff of the 
mother country's social stratification." 14 Australia was originally founded 
as a penal colony. As late as the 1850's, before its Gold Rush, the majority 
of the population were convicts, ex-convicts, or the children of convicts. 
Many of the later "free immigrants" were people who had been involved 
in Chartist and similar movements in Britain. 15 It is also important to note 
that "Australia is one of the very few countries whose whole develop- 
ment has taken place since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution," 
and consequently it developed its national ethos and class structure in a 
period in which traditional and aristocratic values were under sharp 
attack. 16 Unlike Canada, Australia did not emerge out of a vanquished 
democratic revolution, and has no history of defeated nineteenth-cen- 
tury reformist movements. 17 If anything, the reverse is true: the "left" 
played the major role in defining political and social institutions in the 
periods in which national identity was established. 

The difference between the Australian focus on equality and the 
American emphasis on individual achievement is also connected with the 
fact that the Australian frontier experience was quite different from that 
in both Canada and the United States. While its influence on Australian 
values was not restrained and restricted as in Canada, it was conducive 
to an equalitarianism from which the individualism produced on the 
American frontier was absent. 18 In America, each individual attempted 

14 Leslie Lipson, The Politics of Equality (Chicago: University of Chicago 

Press, 1948), pp. 487-488. 

15 Russel Ward, The Australian Legend (New York: Oxford University 

Press, 1959), pp. 14-16, 157-158. 

ie /&<*., p. 18. 

17 Canadian unification in 1867 is associated with the Conservative Party, while 
the federating of Australia around the turn of the century was pressed by the 
Labour Party, which existed in most states. It is noteworthy that the "conserv- 
ative" party in Australia has constantly changed its name to avoid association 
with traditional and privileged elements. "Not by accident but by design the 
term conservative early in the twentieth century disappeared from the nomen- 
clature of parties in Australia and New Zealand, It could not obviously win 
enough varied backing among the surviving elements of conservative opin- 
ion. ... In Canada a conservative outlook in many respects found great favor." 
Alexander Brady, Democracy in the Dominions (Toronto: University of 
Toronto Press, 1958), p* 528. 

18 Carter Goodrich has suggested that "the United States owes its individualism 
largely to its small man's frontier; I think it not fanciful to suggest that Aus- 
tralia owes much of its collectivism [particularism] to the fact that its frontier 
was hospitable to large men instead.** See "The Australian and American La- 

256 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

to find his own plot of land. The Australian pioneer, on the other hand, 
faced a foreboding climate. Many of the frontier enterprises involved 
large-scale cattle and sheep grazing, both of which required consider- 
able capital if the enterprise was to be worthwhile: 

Big men came to control the Australian frontier development while 
in America the westward drive consisted of ordinary individuals, 
men "on the make," where there was sufficient room for manoeuvre 
to support a pro-capitalist oudook. . . . But, in Australia, it left the 
man still a wage earner. . . . Thus, Australia did not develop a large 
middle class of small property owners. Rather was there a nomad 
tribe of pastoral workers, who retained their working class at- 
titudes. 19 

In a certain sense, the differences in outlook between Canada and 
Australia may be seen as reflections of the need of each country to dis- 
sociate itself from that major power which has had the most direct 
cultural and economic influence on it. Canadians as Frank Underbill, 
the eminent elder statesman of Canadian historians, put it recently in a 
public lecture are the world's oldest and continuing "anti-Americans." 
The Canadian sense of nationality has always felt itself threatened by the 
United States, physically in earlier days, and culturally and economically 
in more recent years. Not only have Canadians found it necessary to 
protect themselves against American expansion, they have also found it 
necessary to define why they are not and should not become Americans, 
and they have done so by disparaging various elements in American 
life, mainly those which seemingly are an outgrowth of mass democracy 
and an excessive emphasis on equalitarianism. 20 For example, the president 

bour Movements," The Economic Record, 4 (1928), pp. 206-207. In Australia, 
unlike the United States and Canada, frontier farms were immensely large, and 
employed large numbers of workers. This pattern to a considerable degree 
reflected the difficulties of desert farming and ranching: "The typical Aus- 
tralian frontiersman in the last century was a wage-worker who did not, usu- 
ally, expect to become anything else." Ward, The Australian Legend p. 226. 
Large groups of land laborers developed a sense of group consciousness, and 
very early formed a major trade union, now the largest in the country, the 
Australian Workers Union. See also Fred Alexander, Moving Frontiers (Mel- 
bourne: Melbourne University Press, 1947). 

19 Mackenzie, Australian Paradox, p. 106. 

20 Frank H. Underbill, "The Image of Canada," address given at the Univer- 
sity of New Brunswick Founders' Day, March 8, 1962. In an earlier book 
Underbill pointed to "the effect of British influences in slowing down all move- 
ments throughout the nineteenth century in the direction of the democratiza- 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 257 

of the University of Toronto, Claude T. Bissell, has attempted to explain 
why the image of America has generally had a negative impact on 
Canadian writers in this way: 

[T]he Canadian political heritage and development created an at- 
mosphere that was inimical to much of American literature. There 
was no revolutionary tradition in Canada, no glorification of force 
as a means of winning freedom and release. Moreover, the Canadian 
nation had been fashioned in a spirit of cautious def ensiveness as a 
means of preserving what might at any moment be snatched away. 
All of this led to an innate suspicion of violence, and a tendency to 
equate the exuberant and the expansive with the empty and the 
vulgar. Here, I think, we have the source of the assumption on the 
part of Canadians of a quiet moral superiority to their more splendid 
and affluent neighbors. 21 

The "assumption of a quiet moral superiority" as a means of distinguish- 
ing Canada from the United States may be seen in the first literary at- 
tempts to comment upon the Canadian scene. John Pengwerne Matthews 
points out that Thomas Chandler Haliburton, an eighteenth-century 
Canadian writer, created a "figure of the irrepressible Yankee [peddler], 
Sam Slick," as a "goad he could apply to the inert elements of Nova 
Scotia life": "Sam Slick represented all those traits of bumptiousness 
which Haliburton so detested, and while his self confidence and ingenuity 
are characteristics that Nova Sections would do well to copy, he is the 
caricature of a national prototype that Haliburton did not admire." 22 
Haliburton was using Sam Slick as a moral lesson to make Nova Scotians 
better Canadians, but this was largely ignored, because in their distaste 
for the American emphasis upon equality and achievement, Canadian 
writers could not see the difference between "the synthesis that Hali- 
burton had created and the unadulterated American slick humor south 
of the border. As a result, Canadian writers and critics drew back in 
well-bred horror from the distasteful crudities of the frontier, and looked, 

tion of politics and society. Inevitably, . . . the urge towards greater democracy 
was likely to appear in Canada as an American influence; and since the survival 
of Canada as a separate entity depended on her not being submerged under an 
American flood, such influences were fought as dangerous to our Canadian 
ethos." Underbill, In Search of Canadian Liberalism, p. 15. 

21 Claude T. Bissell, "The Image of America in Canada," Address delivered 
at the Canadian Studies Seminar, University of Rochester, March 16, 1962. 

22 John Pengwerne Matthews, Tradition m Exile (Toronto: University of 
Toronto Press, 1962), p. 38. 

258 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

more resolutely than ever, eastward across the Atlantic to the source of 
all good things." 23 

Insofar as elements that distinguished it from Britain, such as a 
frontier experience and virgin land, were also shared by the United 
States, Canadians turned away from them as a source of defining them- 
selves. As a result, whereas the frontier experience in both Australia 
and the United States, though quite different, brought equalitarian values 
into the nation's image of itself, it did not do so in Canada. 

ranqHfcn intellectuals attempted to overcome their sense of colonial 
inferiority by trying to be as good as the British in their own medium 
rather than, trying to find a medium that suited the attributes of their 
native land. Thus, whereas Canadian critics praised the poet Charles 
Songster because "he may be regarded as the Canadian Wordsworth," 
Australian critics praised Charles Harpur for those poems in which he 
"was not the Australian Wordsworth." 24 Such attitudes kept Canadian 
intellectuals from supporting the populist doctrines espoused by many 
intellectuals in both Australia and the United States. 

Australian nationalism, in contrast, inspired efforts to dissociate Aus- 
tralia from Britain, first politically, and kter in terms of social values. 25 
Britain was perceived antagonistically as the stronghold of rigid in- 
equality. Australian writers romanticized the virtues of the gold rush 
experience or the nomadic life of the sheep-shearers. R. M. Crawford has 
pointed out that the self-image forged for the nation by Australian 
writers drawing on this local heritage was always more radical than 
actual social conditions, precisely because of these' writers* efforts to 
differentiate Australia from Britain. 26 Thus where Canada retained a 
more elitist attitude in reaction to American equalitarianism, Australia 
emulated various American equalitarian patterns in reaction to British 
elitism. 27 

p. 40. 

, pp. 5&-59. 

25 James Bryce was struck by these attitudes before World War L Thus he 
reports, "I was amazed to find in 1912 how many Australians believed Britain 
to be a declining and almost decadent country." Modern Democracies (Lon- 
don: Macmfflan, 1921), Vol. I, p. 268. 

^R M. Crawford, "The Australian National Character: Myth and Reality," 
Cahiers d*histoire mondiale, 2 ( 1955), p. 715. 

27 See Robin Gollan, Radical and Working Class Politics: A Study of Eastern 
Australia (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1960), especially pp. 113- 
115. In drawing up their constitution, the Australians consciously modeled it 
**upon the American rather than the Canadian modeL" See Brady, Democracy 
m the Dommtonsy p. 153. 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 259 

American literature, particularly that growing out of a vaguely populist 
intellectual tradition, has found resonance among Australian writers but 
has been largely ignored by Canadian writers: 

[I]n the field of literature, one could argue that Canadian writers 
have been less responsive than the Australian to American influences. 
As between English and American influences, they have preferred 
the English. . . . Canadian writers found it more difficult than the 
Australian to absorb the exuberant realism that went with the ex- 
pansion of American democracy. Whitman excited only feeblest 
discipleship in Canada but he was a political bible and a literary 
inspiration to Bernard O'Dowd, perhaps the best of pre-modern 
Australian poets. American Utopian and protest literature found 
eager readers in Australia, comparatively few in Canada. 28 

Some quantitative indicators for the value differences among the four 
major English-speaking nations, particularly as they pertain to achieve- 
ment, may be deduced from variations in the numbers securing higher 
education. Perhaps the most striking evidence of the difference between 
American and British values is the variation in such opportunities. In the 
United States, the strong and successful efforts to extend the opportunities 
to attend colleges and universities have, to some considerable degree, 
reflected both pressures by those in lower status positions to secure the 
means to succeed, and recognition on the part of the privileged that 
American values of equality and achievement require giving the means 
to take part in the "race for success" to all those who are qualified. 

Thus if we relate the number enrolled in institutions of higher learning 
to the size of the age cohort 20 to 24, we find that almost seven times as 
large a group was attending such schools in 1956-1957 in the United 
States as in England and Wales. 29 Some proof that these differences 
reflect variation in values, and not simply differences in wealth or oc- 

28 Claude T. Bissell, "A Common Ancestry: Literature in Australia and Can- 
ada," University of Toronto Quarterly, 25 (1955-56), pp. 133-134. 

29 The number attending institutions of higher learning (post-high school) has 
been related to the four year age category 20-24, since in most countries the 
bulk of such students are in this age group. The best category for such anal- 
ysis would probably be 18-21, but the more or less standardized census cate- 
gories are 15-19, and 20-24. Since these two groups are about the same size, 
using the category 20-24 probably gives as good an estimate as is needed of 
the national variations in die proportion of die relevant age cohort attending 
schools of higher education. 

260 Democracy in Comparative 

Table VI 

Students Enrolled in Institutions of Higher Learning as Per Cent 
of Age Group 20-24, by Country, about 1956 


United States 27.2 

Australia 12.05* 

Canada 8.0 

England and Wales 3.7* 

Scotland 5.1* 

Philippines 14.5 

Jamaica .7 

Puerto Rico 11.9 

Western Europe 4.5 

Denmark 6.6 

France 5.8 

Germany (West) 4.1 

U.S.S.R. 11.1 

Source: The educational data for the first eight countries and the USSJR.. are 
calculated from materials in UNESCO, Basic Facts and Figures, 1958 (Paris: 
1959), and the Demographic Yearbook 1960, (New York: Statistical Office of the 
United Nations, 1960). The data for the Western European countries other than 
Britain are taken from J. F. Dewhurst, et aL, Europe's Needs and Resources (New 
York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1961), p. 315. 

* The proportion of Britons and Australians attending institutions of higher 
education is somewhat higher than the figures given in the table proper, 
which include those in universities and teachers' colleges only. Both coun- 
tries have a system of technical colleges, most of which are designed for 
vocational training in technical subjects for students who have not com- 
pleted high schools. However, some of these "colleges" do give university 
level education in engineering and scientific subjects. No precise estimate 
of the size of this group has been located, but one report indicates that as of 
1957, approximately 20,000 students were taking work comparable to that 
in universities in British technical colleges. See E. J. King, Other Schools and 
Ours (London: Methuen and Co., 1958), p. 98. If this group is added to the 
English total, then it would indicate about 4 per cent of the age cohort in 
higher education. Since there are over 200,000 students in Australian technical 
colleges, the "true" Australian figure may also be somewhat higher than the 
one presented in the table. On the other hand, it should be noted also that 
a higher proportion of students in English universities are foreigners (over 
10 per cent) than is true in most other countries. The Russian figure is 
probably a low estimate since it is based on educational enrollment for 1956, 
but on a population cohort taken from 1959 census data. 

Since definitions of higher education and methods of training for different 
professions vary so much from country to country, it is necessary to stress 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 261 

cupational structures, may be deduced from the fact that the one major 
former American colony, the Philippines, has a much larger proportion 
enrolled in colleges and universities than any country in Europe or the 
British Commonwealth, a phenomenon which seemingly reflects the suc- 
cessful effort of Americans to export their belief that "everyone" should 
be given a chance at college education. A comparison of the variation in 
enrollment in such institutions in the two major Caribbean nations long 
under the hegemony of Britain and the United States, Jamaica and 
Puerto Rico, is also instructive. Thus Jamaica, like many other former 
British colonies in Africa and Asia, has a higher education system which 
seems premised on the belief that only a tiny elite should receive such 
training; while the system in Puerto Rico, like the one in the Philippines, 
clearly reflects the continued impact of American assumptions concerning 
widespread educational opportunity. Canada, though it appears to many 
American tourists to be so similar to the United States, has apparently 
not accepted its commitments to spreading educational advantages as 
much; it has less than one-third the United States' proportion in colleges 
and universities, twice that of the English but amazingly less than the 
Filipinos or Puerto Ricans. 30 Australia is closer to the United States in 
this respect, particularly since the percentage reported for it is probably 
not based on as complete an estimate of those in higher education as the 
North American data. The assumptions made by various observers of the 
Australian scene that achievement values are gaining there would seem to 
be congruent with the evidence that a much larger proportion of Austra- 
lians than Canadians are enrolled in institutions of higher learning. 31 

the fact that statistics such as these, though derived from, official national 
bodies and censuses, are subject to considerable error, particularly when used 

30 The assumption is often made that Quebec, which is a more traditionalist 
and Catholic area, shows lower proportions on statistics such as these. This 
assumption is not valid in the case of university education. In the academic 
year 1959-1960, the proportion of the population aged 18-21 attending univer- 
sities was higher in Quebec than in Canada as a whole, or than in the neighbor- 
ing predominantly English-speaking province of Ontario. See Dominion 
Bureau of Statistics, Fall Enrollment of Universities and Colleges, 1959 
(Ottawa: Queen's Printer, I960), p. 9. 

31 Some indication that these differences operate within the United Kingdom 
itself may be seen in the fact that the Scots, whose society is both more equal- 
itarian and achievement oriented than the English, though much poorer eco- 
nomically, have many more students enrolled in universities than the English, 
holding population size constant. 

262 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

American and Australian egalitarianism is perhaps most clearly reflected 
politically in the relative strength of "populist" movements through which 
popular passions wreak their aggression against the structure of the polity. 
Most recently Australia and the United States both sustained large-scale, 
popularly based efforts to drive suspected Communists out of key posi- 
tions in unions and politics. 82 J. B. Priestley has in fact argued that "Aus- 
tralia's attitude to men of independent thought was the same as that of 
America when McCarthy was at his peak. 33 Conversely in Canada, as in 
Britain, such problems have been handled in a much more discreet fashion, 
reflecting in some part the ability of a more unified and powerful political 
elite to control the system. The Canadian sociologist S. D. Clark has ex- 
plained these differences as due to variations in patterns of political inte- 

[In the nineteenth century] Canada maintained her separate political 
existence . , only by resisting any movement on the part of her 
population which had the effects of weakening the controls of cen- 
tral political authority [and thus encouraging the possibility of 
American take-over]. The claims to the interior of the continent 
were staked not by advancing frontiersmen, acting on their own, 
but by advancing armies and police forces, large corporate economic 
enterprises and ecclesiastical organizations supported by the state. 
The Canadian political temper, as a result, has run sharply counter 
to the American. Those creeds of American political life individual 
rights, local autonomy, and limitation of executive power . . . 
have found less strong support within the Canadian political system. 

32 There have been a number of cases in recent Australian history of restric- 
tions on academic freedom and outside political interference in the life of uni- 
versities. Perhaps the most scandalous involved the refusal of the University 
of New South Wales to appoint an important scholar to its faculty because 
of objections by government security officers. He had apparently belonged to 
the Communist Party in the 1940's. See ''Security in the Quad," Nation (Aus- 
tralia), December 3, 1960, p. 7; see also W. M. Bell, "Secure No More," Nation 
(Australia), October 8, 1960, pp. 6-8. 

38 Cited in Mackenzie, Australian Paradox, p. 155. Mrs. Mackenzie agrees that 
the pressures toward intolerance and conformity in Australia are great, but she 
feels that Australia has not been as bad as the United States during the height 
of the McCarthy era. Rather, she seems to agree with a statement that she 
quotes from the Sydney Morning Herald, which commented in February, 
1955, that, "While there is nothing that can properly be called McCarthyism 
in Australia, there is a discouragement of free and unpopular or politically un- 
conventional thinking.'* 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 263 

. . . [the] conditions of rule in Canada required the maintenance of 
a highly centralized political community. 

. . . Critics outside [the United States] might well pause to con- 
sider not the intolerance which finds expression in McCarthyism but 
the tolerance which makes it possible for McCarthyism to develop. 
In Canada it would be hard to conceive of a state of political free- 
dom great enough to permit the kind of attacks upon responsible 
leaders of the government which have been carried out in the United 
States. More careful examination of the American community . . . 
would probably reveal that, in spite of the witch hunts in that coun- 
try, the people of the United States enjoy in fact a much greater 
degree of freedom than do the people of Canada. 34 

Forty years earlier, James Bryce also called attention to these aspects 
of Canadian life: 

Demagogism is supposed to be a malady incident to democracies. 
Canada has suffered from it less than any other modern free coun- 
try except Switzerland. . . . The spirit of licence, a contempt of 
authority, a negligence in enforcing the laws, have been so often 
dwelt upon as characteristic of democracies that their absence from 
Canada is a thing of which she may well be proud. To what shall we 
ascribe the strength of the Executive, the efficiency of the police, 
the strict application of criminal justice, the habit of obedience to 
the kw? . . . The habit was formed under governments that were 
in those days monarchical in fact as well as in name and it has per- 
sisted. 35 

The greater similarity between Australia and the United States, as con- 
trasted with Canada (and to a much greater degree with Britain), in the 
extent to which populist explosions and threats to systematic due process 
occur, is reflected to some degree in their attitudes toward kw and order. 
Again a reading of largely impressionistic literature suggests that the first 
two seemingly more equalitarian nations are more willing to tolerate law- 
lessness. The reason for this may be that the absence of traditional mech- 
anisms of social control in these societies has weakened the pressure to 

34 S. D. Clark, "The Frontier and Democratic Theory," Transactions of the 
Royal Society of Canada, 48 (1954), Series III, Section Two, pp. 71-72; see 
also S. D. dark, Movements of Political Protest in Canada (Toronto: Uni- 
versity of Toronto Press, 1959), pp. 3-10. 

35 Bryce, Modem Democracies, Vol. I, pp. 559-560. 

264 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

conform without coercion. As the Australian historian Russel Ward has 
well put it, the deferential "respect for the squire" which underlies the ac- 
ceptance of authority and informal social controls in Britain is "based on 
traditional obligations which were, or had been, to some extent mutual." 
This was not easily transferred to new equalitarian societies which em- 
phasized the universalistic cash nexus as a source of social relations. 36 The 
complaints found in the United States that corrupt means of achieving 
success are socially accepted have also been expressed by Australians. 37 
"They will put up with boss-rule and corruption in trade unions; they 
are not greatly concerned about gerrymandering at elections." 38 Neither 
union corruption, as we have seen, nor gerrymandering are so prevalent 
in Britain or Canada. 

One indicator of the relative strength of the informal normative mech- 
anisms of social control as compared with the restrictive emphases of le- 
gal sanctions seems to be the extent to which given nations need lawyers. 
Among the English-speaking democracies, the United States and Britain 
stand at polar extremes. As of 1955, the United States had 241,514 law- 
yers "of whom approximately 190,000 were engaged in private practice. 
This means there was one lawyer in private practice per 868 of popula- 
tion. . . . [T]he total English legal profession seems to number about 
25,000, and those in private practice can hardly be more than 20,000, or 
one lawyer per 2,222 population." 39 The comparable ratio for Australia, 
considering all men reported as employed in private practice in the legal 
profession as practicing lawyers, is one for every 1,210 persons, while in 
Canada the figure is about one for every 1,630. 40 

The emphasis on populist values derivative from equalitarianism in the 
United States as contrasted with the very different value emphases in Brit- 
ain is reflected in the differential status and role of judge and jury in the 
two countries. The American system has stressed the notion of the judge 
as a neutral "umpire," in a contest which is decided by a jury drawn from 

36 Ward, The Australian Legend, p. 27. 

37 Bryce > Modern Democracies, Vol. II, pp. 276-277; MacKenzie, Australian 

Paradox, pp. 154, 220-222. 

38 Mackenzie, Australian Paradox, p. 154. 

39 L. C. B. Gower and Leolin Price, "The Profession and Practice of Law in 
England and America," Modern Law Review, 20 (1957), p. 317. 

40 The Canadian estimate of about 11,000 practicing lawyers (and notaries) in 
Quebec is from a study of the Taxation Division of the Department of Na- 
tional Revenue reported in a letter from the Information Officer of the Ca- 
nadian Embassy in Washington; the Australian data were supplied by the 
Australian Reference Library in New York City. 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 265 

the population, while the British have placed more stress on the positive 
role of the judge and less on the role of the jury. In a detailed study of 
changes in the British conception of the jury, Joseph Hamburger points 
out the relationship between these differences and the larger social sys- 

The main difference between England and America that led to the 
different status of the jury system in the estimate of public opinion 
arises from the differences in social and political backgrounds. Amer- 
ica, a new country in which people had a greater freedom to form 
their opinions without the restraints of tradition or the influences 
of an established class system, allowed wider range for populistic 
fantasies. There were, particularly in the frontier communities, few 
ancient traditions or vested interests of an established society to 
keep people from modelling their institutions on the popular demo- 
cratic beliefs that seemed to emerge almost naturally in such an at- 
mosphere. It is not surprising, therefore, that the jury was seen, not 
in its English historical context, but as a microcosm of the popular 
will, a positive instrument of democracy. Accompanying such an 
image, there were hostilities to any ideas or practices that spoiled 
the pure, democratic character of this picture; thus, the impatience 
with judges who asserted more authority than an umpire needed or 
who insisted on the authority of a law that was not only complex 
but also foreign. The jury appeared to be an ideal instrument for 
allowing the sovereign people to form and interpret the laws that 
regulated their conduct. 41 

The contempt for law in Australia is expressed by the behavior of 
their trade unions, which "can reduce the law, or parts of the law to 
impotence. Practically every strike of any size in Australia is illegal, yet 
the Australian record of man-days lost per head since the war is chal- 
lenged only by the United States." 42 Lack of respect for the police and 
for law enforcement in general, an attitude linked not only to equali- 
tarian attitudes toward authority but also perhaps to the country's penal- 
colony origins, is evident in the many press reports and editorials which 
report incidents and complaints that bystanders "refuse to help, in fact 

41 See his chapter, "Trial by Jury and Liberty of the Press," in Harry Kalven, 
ed., The Public Image of the Jury System (Boston: Little, Brown, forthcom- 
ing); see also Hamburger's chapter, "Decline of the Jury Trial in England," in 
the same volume. 

42 Hugh Clegg, A New Approach to Industrial Democracy (London: Basil 
BlackweU, 1960), p. 22. 

266 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

their inclination [is] to hinder a policeman in trouble." 43 A study of 
Australian national character states unequivocally that "dislike and dis- 
trust of policemen . . . has sunk deeply into the national consciousness. 44 

This judgment may be contrasted with the emphasis placed, in a re- 
port of a detailed questionnaire-based study of English national character, 
on the great respect for the police in that country. Geoffrey Gorer 
describes "the enthusiastic appreciation of the police, disclosed by this 
study" and comments that he does "not think the English police have 
ever been felt to be the enemy of sizeable non-criminal sections of the 
population. . . ," 45 Similarly in Canada, the respect given the national 
police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, far exceeds that ever 
given the police in the United States, and crime statistics for English 
Canada indicate a much lower rate of law violation than occurs south 
of the border. 

But if the differences among the English-speaking nations discussed so 
far reflect their variations on a scale of elitism-equalitarianisrn, the 
strength and policies of their labor movements would seem to be linked 
to alternative attitudes toward particularism. As was noted earlier, most 
commentators agree that Australia differs from the United States and also, 
to a somewhat lesser degree, from Canada in the extent to which its so- 
cial structure is tied to strong particularistic sentiments, especially the 
emphasis on "mateship." And the same strong emphasis on "mateship" 
has been suggested as a major cause of the fact that Australia shows a 
much lower wage differential for skill as compared with the United 
States. However, it should be noted that this egalitarian wage tendency 
is not limited only to manual workers: "The differential between the low- 

43 Ward, op. cit., p. 6. Jeanne Mackenzie has commented: "While I was in 
Australia a young man, Kevin John Simmonds, escaped from gaol; 38 days 
later he was captured and brought into court. The newspaper report read: 
'More than 500 people lined Central Lane today to cheer the shoeless Simmonds 
as he appeared in die courtyard. Simmonds, still unshaven, limped across the 
courtyard and waved to the crowd.' It would seem that he was a national 
hero but then the report went on to list the charges against him. They were: 
'The murder of Emu Plains training centre warder Cecil Mills on 11 October; 
escape from custody; one robbery while armed; seven breaking and entering 
and stealing charges; six charges of car stealing; one charge of stealing from 
a dwelling/ " Op. tit., p. 154. 
"Ibid., p. 149. 

45 Geoffrey Gorer, Exploring English Character, "A Study of the Morals and 
Behavior of the English People" (New York: Criterion Books, 1955), p. 295. 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 267 

est and highest incomes is low in Australia. Within any commercial or 
industrial organization the salary of the second-highest level executives 
is usually not more than three times that of the lowest paid adult male 
employee (before income tax, which levels the incomes considerably 
more)." 46 Thus the lower wage differentials in Australia must also be 
linked to its emphasis upon equaUtarianism. However, Australian equali- 
tarianism has a somewhat different emphasis than it does in the United 

[The Australian] is indifferent to the fact that some can be educated 
privately and some simply acquire a state education, that some go to 
a university and others have neither the money nor inclination to do 
so. But he is concerned that those who are educationally privileged 
should not thereby stand on the shoulders of others and be blessed 
by a social cachet because of it. 47 

The Australians' instinctive desire to "cut down the tall poppies" perhaps 
results from the fact that equalitarianism grew out of a tradition that 
stressed common lower-class origins, as expressed in mateship, whereas 
equalitarianism in the United States was reenf orced by an emphasis upon 
all individuals having equal potentiality. The Australian pattern thus 
emerges in a culture where equalitarianism is combined with somewhat 
less emphasis upon achievement and somewhat greater emphasis on par- 
ticularism than it is in the United States. 

Canada is seemingly less particularistic than Australia and Britain, but 
more so than the United States. Quantitative evidence of the greater em- 
, phasis on particularism in Australian and British politics as contrasted 
with the two North American democracies may be found in a detailed 
comparative analysis of the factors associated with electoral support for 
different parties in these four countries. Although there is a clear correla- 
tion between class and voting in each country (the poorer a group or 
the lower its status, the more likely it is to be "leftist" in its vot- 
ing behavior), the relationship is "consistently higher in Australia and 
Great Britain than in Canada and the United States." 44 

46 Kenneth F. Walker, Industrial Relations in Australia (Cambridge, Mass.: 
Harvard University Press, 1956), pp. 329-330. 

47 MacKenzie, Australian Paradox, p. 129. 

48 Robert Alf ord, Social Class and Voting in Four Anglo-American Democ- 
racies (Berkeley: Survey Research Center, University of California, dittoed, 
1961), p. 89. 

268 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

Similarities in basic values derived from comparable institutionalized 
historical experiences in Australia and the United States have made each 
more like the other than either is to Canada or Britain. 49 These compar- 
able value patterns over-ride the influences flowing from the fact that 
Australia is in closer cultural contact with Britain than with the United 
States, or from the fact that Canada is in relatively intimate contact with 
the United States and has much less direct stimulation from Britain. 50 

Values and the Democratic Process 

While the stability of a democracy demands that the values of univer- 
salism and achievement be dominant in both the economic and political 
spheres, it does not require them to be dominant in the status hierarchies. 
That is, the status hierarchy may lean toward elitism, as it does in Britain, 
or toward equalitarianism, as in the United States, yet both of these na- 
tions are stable democracies. 

However, these differences do have their effects on the ways in which 
the political system functions, particularly in the viability of the "rules 
of the game," and in such matters as the tolerance of opposition and non- 
conformity and in the respect shown for the due process of the law. 

Although popular agreement about the importance of such rules would 
seem an important requisite for their effectiveness, the empirical data do 
not clearly sustain this expectation. The less educated and the lower strata 
in most countries do not accept the need for tolerance of what they con- 
sider to be "error" or "wickedness," that is, opposition to what is "clearly 
right." Conversely, the "rules of the game" are most respected where 
they are most significant, that is, among the various politically relevant 

49 It has been suggested by some that these similarities and differences in val- 
ues showed up in vivid form in reactions to the demands that military life 
has made on civilian conscripts in the four countries. The British and, to a 
lesser degree, the Canadians accepted the need to conform to the rigid hier- 
archical structure of the military; while Australians and Americans showed 
deep resentment at having to exhibit deference to superiors. I have been told 
by nationals of different countries that in London bars during both world wars 
Americans and Australians tended to associate with each other, while Canadians 
were more likely than the Australians to prefer British companions to Amer- 
icans. I am indebted to Professor Frank Underbill for first calling my attention 
to such behavior patterns. 

50 As the Australian writer J. D. Pringle has put it: "Australia is less English 
than it appears and more American than it looks." Cited in Mackenzie, 
Australian Paradox, p. 28. 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 269 

and involved elites. 51 Perhaps the highest degree of tolerance for polit- 
ical deviance is found, therefore, in democratic systems which are most 
strongly characterized by the values of elitism and diffuseness. Diffuse 
elitism of the variety which exists in most of the democratic monarchies 
of Europe tends to place a buffer between the elites and the population. 
The generalized deference which the latter give to the former means that 
even if the bulk of the electorate do not understand or support the "rules," 
they accept the leadership of those who do. It is deferential respect for 
the elite rather than tolerant popular opinion which underlies the vaunted 
freedom of dissent in countries like Britain and Sweden. The ability of 
countries to operate with an unwritten constitution which places no for- 
mal restrictions on parliamentary violations of civil liberties is in some 
considerable measure made possible by the emphasis on diffuseness and 
elitism in the system, 52 In these societies, the elites, whether those of the 

51 See S. M. Lipset, Political Mem: The Social Eases of Politics (Garden City, 
N. Y.: Doubleday, 1960), pp. 101-105, 109-114, for a summary of studies 
bearing on this problem. The reverse proposition will be true in countries in 
which democratic "rules of the game" have not been institutionalized. Where 
privileged classes are fighting to retain their traditional oligarchic rights and 
powers, they will strongly resist the claims for participation in the polity of 
groups based on the lower strata. 

52 In an extremely interesting paper comparing life and social organization on 
ships in the American and British merchant marines, Stephen Richardson in- 
dicates that variations in basic national values deeply affect authority relation- 
ships within identical economic institutions: "Comparison of British and Amer- 
ican crews suggests that the British realize and accept the authority of com- 
petent persons and are not as fearful of the misuse of authority as Americans. 
This acceptance of authority is closely related to acceptance of social strati- 
fication and the symbols of these differences. Status symbols function as cues 
for self -regulation, in conformity with the status and role requirements of the 
ship. British seamen are conditioned before coming to sea to accept authority, 
and consequently the change in attitudes required when a man becomes a 
seaman is slight. . . . 

"Among American crews a far greater fear and suspicion of author- 
ity appears to exist. Social stratification is not widely accepted and is 
often denied. Many symbols of social stratification have been removed, and, 
because they are suspect, the remaining symbols do little to enhance self- 
regulation of the man in conformity with die status and role demands of the 
ship's social organization." Since the norms of the social structure undermine 
authority on American ships, there is a necessity for a "far greater formaliza- 
tion of die social system than [on] the British," and American ships have many 
more explicit rules and regulations. Richardson, "Organizational Contrasts on 
British and American Ships," Administration Science Quarterly, 1 (1956), pp. 

270 Democracy In Comparative Perspective 

intellect, of business, of politics, or of mass organizations, are both pro- 
tected and controlled by their membership in the "club." 

The seemingly lesser respect for civil liberties and minority rights in 
the more equalitarian democracies such as the United States and Aus- 
tralia may be viewed as a consequence of a social system in which elite 
status is more specific, so that contending elites do not receive diffuse 
respect and feel less acutely the need to conform to an appropriate set of 
rules when in conflict with one another. They do not see themselves as part 
of the same club, as members of "an establishment." Hence disagreement 
about the rules, as well as over policies, are thrown to the broader public 
for settlement. And this entails appealing in some degree to a mass elec- 
torate to adjudicate on rules whose utility, in some measure, they cannot 
be expected to understand; appreciation of the necessity for such rules 
often involves a long-term socialization to the nature of the political and 
juridical process, secured primarily through education and/or participa- 
tion. Thus, though civil liberties will be stronger in elitist democracies 
than in equalitarian ones, the latter may be regarded as more "democratic" 
in the sense that the electorate has more access to or power over the elite. 

Another of Parsons* pattern variables not discussed earlier suggests 
specific sources of political strain in contemporary American society. His 
distinction between self-orientation and collectivity-orientation stresses 
the extent to which values emphasize that a collectivity has a claim on 
the individual units within it to conform to the defined interests of the 
larger group, as contrasted to a stress on actions predominantly reflecting 
the perceived needs of the units. An emphasis on particularism tends to 
be linked to collectivity-orientation. Moreover, the noblesse oblige 
morality inherent in aristocracy is an aspect of collectivity-orientation. 
Traditionally, Britain and Australia appear to have stressed collectivity 
obligations more than have Canada and the United States. Consequently, 
the rise of socialist and welfare-state concepts have placed less of a strain 
on British and Australian values than on American. Canada, with its 
greater stress on elitism and particularism than the United States, would 
be somewhat more collectivity-oriented than this country. Although 
modern industrial society, including the United States, appears to be 
moving generally toward a greater acceptance of collectivity-orientations, 
the American values' emphasis on self-orientation results in a stronger re- 
sistance to accepting the new community welfare concepts than occurs 
elsewhere. In discussing the rise of right-wing extremism in American 
society, Parsons has argued that they are the most self-oriented segments 
of the American population which currently find the greatest need for 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 271 

political scapegoats and which strongly resist political changes which are 
accepted by the upper classes in such countries as Britain and Sweden. 53 
Thus, the values of elitism and ascription may protect an operating 
democracy from the excesses of populism and may facilitate the ac- 
ceptance by the privileged strata of the welfare planning state, whereas 
emphases on self-orientation and anti-elitism may be conducive to right- 
wing populism. 

Elitism in the status hierarchy has major dysfunctions which should 
be noted here. 54 A system of differential status rankings requires that 
a large proportion of the population accept a negative conception of 
their own worth as compared with others in more privileged positions. 
To be socially defined as being low according to a system of values which 
one respects, must mean that, to some unspecified degree, such low status 
is experienced as "punishment" in a psychological sense. This felt sense 
of deprivation or punishment is often manifested in "self-hatred," a phe- 
nomenon which, when perceived as characteristic of inferior ascriptive 
racial or ethnic status, has often been deplored. The features of such 
self-hatred are: rejection of behavior patterns associated with one's own 
group as uncouth, negative judgments concerning the value of occupa- 
tional roles characteristic of one's own group, and the desire to leave one's 
own group and "pass" into a dominant group. It is universally recognized 
that such feelings on the part of a Negro or a Jew are indicators of psy- 
chic punishment; yet the same reactions among the lower class are often 
not perceived in the same way. 

To a considerable degree, the social mechanisms which operate to 
legitimate an existing distribution of status inequalities succeed in repress- 
ing such discontent, sometimes by structuring perceptions so that even 
low status individuals may view themselves as higher and therefore "bet- 
ter" than some others, or by creating bonds of vicarious identification 
with those in higher positions. The latter mechanism is particularly prev- 
alent in systems which emphasize ascriptive and elitist values. However, 
it is doubtful that such mechanisms alone are a sufficient solution for the 
problem of social rejection and psychological self-punishment inherent 
in low status. 

There are different adaptive mechanism which have emerged to rec- 

53 See Talcott Parsons, "Social Strains in America," in Daniel Bell, ed., The 
Radical Right (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1963), pp. 183-184. 
64 For a good discussion of the dysfunctions inherent in an elitist society see 
C. A. R. Crosland, The Future of Socialism (London: Jonathan Cape, 1956), 
pp. 227-237. 

272 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

oncile low status individuals to their position and thus contribute to the 
stability and legitimacy of the larger system. The three most common ap- 
pear to be: 

1. Religion Belief in a religion with a transvaluational theology, one 
which emphasizes the possibility or even the probability that the poor on 
earth will enjoy higher status in heaven or in a reincarnation, operates to 
adjust them to their station, and motivates those in low positions to carry 
out their role requirements. 55 

2. Social Mobility The belief that achievement is possible and that 
virtue will be rewarded by success for one's self or one's children provides 
stabilizing functions comparable to those suggested for religion. 

3. Political Action Participation in or support for political movements 
which aim to raise the position of depressed groups, and which in their 
ideology contain transvaluational elements the assumption that the lower 
strata are morally better than the upper classes also helps to adjust the 
deprived groups to their situation. 

Since the three mechanisms may be regarded as functional alterna- 
tives to one another, that is, as satisfying similar needs, it may be posited 
that where one or more is weakly present, the other (s) will be strongly 
in evidence. Specifically, for example, where belief in religion or social 
mobility is weak, the lower strata should be especially receptive to radi- 
cal transvaluational political or economic appeals. 66 Social systems under- 
going major institutional changes, which weaken faith in traditional reli- 
gion and which do not replace this lost faith by the value system of an 
open, achievement-oriented society, have experienced major extremist 
political movements. It has been argued by some that one of the factors 
sustaining the bases for Communist and anarchist movements in countries 
like Spain, France, and Italy has been the perpetuation in society of 

55 Religious movements may also, of course, constitute a major element in sec- 
ular political protest. This is the case today among American Negroes. Lower- 
class churches and their ministers may directly or indirectly help form class- 
based political movements. And, of course, sectarian groupings have often 
expressed the hostility of the depressed strata to the privileged order and their 
religion. But such forms of institutionalized protest, like radical political move- 
ments, themselves serve as means of defining lower status in forms which are 
palatable to those occupying lower status positions. 

56 The thesis that revolutionary socialism and transvaluational religion have 
served similar functions for oppressed groups was elaborated by Friedrich 
Engels, "On the Early History of Christianity," in K. Marx and F. Engels, 
On Religion (Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1957), pp. 312- 

Value Differences, Absolute or Relative 273 

strong ascriptive and elitist value elements together with a "dechristian- 
ized" lower stratum. 57 

A strong societal emphasis on achievement and equalitarianism (which 
in part may be perceived as a secular transvaluational ideology) combined 
with strong religious belief, particularly among the lower strata, should 
maximize the legitimacy of the existing distribution of privilege and thus 
minimize the conditions for extremist protest. This is, of course, the sit- 
uation in the United States. The strong emphasis in American culture on 
the need to "get ahead," to be successful, seems to be accompanied by 
powerful transvaluational religions among those who have the least access 
to the approved means of success. 

57 In France, for example, ecological studies which contrast degree of religious 
practice with Communist strength show that the Communists are most suc- 
cessful in regions in which the "anti-clerical" wave had previously suppressed 
much of the traditional fidelity to Catholicism. See G. LeBras, "Geographic 
electorate et geographic religieuse," in Etudes de sociologie electorate, Cahiers 
de la fondation nationale des sciences politiques, n. 1 (Paris: Armand Colin, 
1949); and Francois Goguel, Geographic des elections Frangtdses de 1870 A 
1951, Cahiers de la fondation nationale des sciences politiques, n. 27 (Paris: 
Armand Colin, 1951), pp. 134-135. 

Values, Social 
Character, and the 
Democratic Polity 



The relationship between the value patterns and the political process of 
a society may be considered on another level than has been discussed so 
far that of the effect of these patterns on the social character of the 
citizen. As pointed out in Chapter 3, European travelers to America have 
remarked over the course of American history that, compared to parents 
in their own countries, American parents were much more permissive with 
their children. This they perceived as related to the general emphasis on 
equalitarianism. Anthropologists and psychologists, in their recent work 
on "national character," would agree that there is a relationship between 
such differences in child-rearing practices and the modal personalities of 
the members of various societies. The character of the citizens may in 
turn affect the functioning of the society's political system. 

There is ample evidence that the differences in early socialization and 
training reported in the nineteenth century between American and Euro- 
pean countries have persisted to this day. American children are much 
more likely than their European counterparts to feel free to "talk back" 
to their parents or their teachers, to have their wishes respected, to be 
paid attention, and to perform duties in the family which would in other 
countries be restricted to adults. The retention of more ascriptive values 
in European societies may account for such differences in child-rearing 
practices. 1 British middle-class respondents are somewhat more likely than 

a See Max Horkheimer, ed., Studien liber Attthoritat und Familie (Paris: 
Alcan, 1936). 

Values, Social Character, and the Democratic Polity 275 

their American counterparts to stress obedience as something to be culti- 
vated in the child. 2 And the feature that stands out most prominently in 
French socialization practices is the separation between the world of 
adults and the child's world. 3 It may also be suggested that, in many ways, 
Swedish and German family systems and socialization patterns are highly 
similar, because both cultures only a short time ago placed a high emphasis 
on ascriptive authority. 

A very provocative study comparing American and German socializa- 
tion practices suggests the ways that differences in values between the 
two nations affect their socialization practices and the ways these in turn 
may affect children's behavior. The authors report that, in general, Ger- 
man parents are much more likely to assume "parenting" behavior than 
American parents, both in the form of "direct punishment and control" 
and in the form of "affection and companionship." 4 As a counter to their 
lesser control over their children, and in congruence with the other major 
themes in American culture, American parents, particularly American 
mothers, are more likely than German parents to put pressure on their 
children to achieve. 

These differences in the relationship between parents and children are 
in turn reflected in differences in the way parents reward and punish their 
children. American parents are more likely than German parents to show 
their disapproval of a child's actions by rejecting him or depriving him of 
his privileges; German parents are somewhat more likely than American 
parents to use "principled discipline" and "physical punishment." The 
American type of discipline combined with the greater pressure on the 
American child to achieve seems to stimulate him to assume responsibility 
for himself at an earlier age than a comparable German child. The re- 
searchers conclude that "German children are exposed to appreciably 
more affection and control than their American age-mates. This, in turn, 
implies a prolongation of dependency, postponement of participation in 
semi-autonomous peer-group activity, and delay in the development of 
motives for self-directed achievement." 5 

We have seen how Americans' orientation toward individuality and 

2 Maurice L. Farber, "English and American Values in the Socialization 
Process," Journal of Psychology, 36 (1953), p. 245. 

3 Rhoda Metraux and Margaret Mead, Themes in French Culture (Stanford, 
Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1954), pp. 27-34. 

4 Edward C. Devereux, Jr., Urie Bronfenbrenner, and George Suci, "Patterns 
of Parent Behavior in the United States of America and the Federal Re- 
public of Germany: A Cross-national Comparison," International Social 
Science Journal, 14 (1962), p. 496. 

* Ibid., p. 505. 

276 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

achievement, and their tendency to choose reference groups outside the 
family, have affected their reaction to stratification. Their characteris- 
tically universalistic, self-interested approach has influenced the character 
of the institutions, such as trade unions, that are associated with it. A 
psychiatric study comparing American and German reactions to military 
life suggests that Americans approach the military hierarchy also in terms 
of a need for individual achievement which has been fostered by Ameri- 
can socialization practices. It concludes: 

The abuse of the privileges accorded status by the officers, the wide- 
spread black-market and looting activities of all lower ranks, the re- 
jection of authoritarian and disciplinary demands that tend to over- 
whelm and subordinate the self, the reluctance to expose ego to 
damage until machine power has done all it can, and the relatively 
speedy withdrawal from the group when under stress, are all very 
positive indications . . . [that] the central orientation of the Ameri- 
can character is self interest. It is the dynamic force that binds all the 
traits together, that gives the type its Gestalt. e 

Thus the value system of a society influences the character of its insti- 
tutions and these shape the character of its citizens as they grow up. The 
character of a society's members in turn reacts upon the character of its 
institutions. Several versions of such an argument have been proposed 
specifically with regard to the political system. 7 Alex Inkeles reports 
generally that: 

There is substantial and rather compelling evidence of a regular and 
intimate connection between personality and the mode of political 
participation by individuals and groups within any one political sys- 
tem. In many different institutional settings and in many parts of 
the world, those who adhere to the more extreme political positions 
have distinctive personality traits separating them from those taking 
more moderate positions in the same setting. 8 

6 G. Dearborn Spindler, "American Character as Revealed by the Military," 

Psychiatry, II (1948), p. 279. 

T The effort of Harry Eckstein to relate the stability of democratic systems 

to the type of authority relations in different societies is closely related to the 

attempts to link political systems to modal personal character in given cultures. 

A Theory of Stable Democracy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Center 

of International Studies, 1961). 

8 Alex Inkeles, ''National Character and Modern Political Systems," in Francis 

Hsu, ed., Psychological Anthropology (Homewood, 111.: Dorset Press, 1961), 

p. 193. 

Values, Social Character, and the Democratic Polity 277 

Unfortunately, systematic comparative studies relating personality 
characteristics to political behavior are scarce. But since the main purpose 
of this book is to suggest the utility of relating value orientations to struc- 
tural correlates of behavior, I will briefly indicate possible links with 
character analysis as well. 

The Authoritarian versus the Democratic Personality 

One of the personality distinctions on which there is a fair amount of 
data is that developed by Horkheimer and his associates in Germany in 
the 1930's and elaborated by Adorno and his associates in the United 
States in the 1950's. This is the distinction between the authoritarian and 
the democratic personality. 9 On the basis of these writings and others in 
this field, Inkeles has summarized this distinction as follows: 

The . . . [democratic person] should be accepting of others rather 
than alienated and harshly rejecting; open to new experiences, to 
ideas and impulses rather than excessively timid, fearful, or extremely 
conventional with regard to new ideas and ways of acting; able to 
be responsible with constituted authority even though always watch- 
ful, rather than blindly submissive to or hostilely rejecting of all 
authority; tolerant of differences and of ambiguity, rather than rigid 
and inflexible; able to recognize, control and channel his emotions, 
rather than immaturely projecting hostility and other impulses on to 
others. 10 

Inkeles cites, among other studies, one by D. V. McGranahan which 
secured attitude responses from comparable groups of German and 
American boys. 11 The Germans were much more likely to favor obedi- 
ence to authority, to admire people with power, and to have less faith 
in the common man. Another comparative study of college students in a 
number of countries reported that the Japanese were high among various 
nationals in their sense of obligation to the group, and in feeling that 
children should learn the need for service to society. Conversely, Ameri- 

d See Horkheimer, ed., Studien ilber Authoritat und Familie; and T. W. 
Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswick, Daniel J. Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford, 
The Authoritarian Personality (New York: Harper & Bros., 1950) 

10 Inkeles, "National Character and Modern Political Systems," op. cit., p. 198. 

11 Donald V. McGranahan, "A Comparison of Social Attitudes among Ameri- 
can and German Youth," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 41 
(1946), pp. 245-257. 

278 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

cans and New Zealanders emphasized "rights rather than duties," and 
stressed individuality and privacy. 12 

A comparison of German and English boys' answers to a projective 
test also suggests differences between the two national characters along the 
lines outlined by Inkeles' definition of the democratic as opposed to the 
authoritarian person. The German boys were most likely to dislike 
cowards, whereas English boys were most likely to dislike bullies, ruf- 
fians, and girls. The German boys were in almost complete agreement in 
seeing corporal punishment as the only sequence to an offense, whereas 
English boys showed greater flexibility, sometimes trying "to fit the 
punishment to the crime." In general, there was a marked tendency 
toward conventionalism and rigidity in the German boys' answers, 
whereas the English boys seemed to "allow more free play to their 
imaginations." 18 

A comparison between German and American popular plays also sug- 
gests that "the needs, assumptions and values" expressed in the drama of 
the two nations differ along these same dimensions. Thus the greatest per- 
centage of German plays analyzed are concerned with idealism and 
power whereas the greatest percentage of American plays are concerned 
with love and morality. As the authors point out: 

. . . the German pkys are strikingly more preoccupied with social 
and political problems than are the American plays. Their level of 
action is primarily ideological. . . . The problems portrayed in the 
American plays, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly personal. 
. . The German ideological emphasis is obviously tied up closely 
with the emphasis on the idealism theme. 14 

As a result, the American hero is seen as struggling against immoral or 
anti-social tendencies in himself, whereas the German hero rises above 
the masses in pursuit of an ideal goal. American plays are often climaxed 
by a marshaling of evidence that causes the hero to change his attitude; 

12 James M. Gillespie and Gordon W. Allport, Youth's Outlook on the Future: 
A Cross-National Study (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1955), p. 29. 

13 A. Kaldegg, "Responses of German and English Secondary School Boys to 
a Projective Test," British Journal of Psychology, 39 (1948), p. 51. (Emphasis 
in original.) 

14 Donald V. McGranahan and Ivor Wayne, "A Comparative Study of Na- 
tional Characteristics," in James Grier Miller, ed., Experiments in Social 
Process (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950), p. 112. 

Values, Social Character, and the Democratic Polity 279 

German plays are often resolved through an exercise of power, since the 
characters are usually portrayed as inflexible and uncompromising. 

But if these and other studies are suggestive of a relationship between 
the social requirements of political systems and the model, if not the 
dominant, cluster of personal traits of its citizens, the evidence to justify 
this conclusion is far from in. 

If we assume with Inkeles that what he calls the democratic personality 
facilitates the stabilization of democratic institutions and reduces the 
potential appeal which extremist tendencies may have, then it is necessary 
to posit the aspects of the social structure which are conducive to the 
predominance of such traits. Psychological analysis confirms that in large 
measure such traits are derivative from childhood experiences, particu- 
larly parent-child relationships. 15 In its extreme form we have tie con- 
clusion of Ralph Linton that "nations with authoritarian family structure 
inevitably seem to develop authoritarian governments, no matter what 
their official government forms may be." 16 Such conclusions are clearly 
unwarranted by any substantial body of data. They do point, however, to 
the need to relate the types of family structures and child-rearing ex- 
periences found under different systems of stratification and value orienta- 
tions to the ability of people to adapt to the operation of a democratic 
polity, with its inherent need for the toleration of differences. 

It would be in line with the general approach being discussed here to 
argue that American children have more "democratic" characters in the 
sense that they have a greater independence of mind and tolerance for 
ambiguity than do the children in Europe, since there is less stress on 
home discipline in the United States. 17 Some of the direct evidence avail- 
able would seem to support this contention. For instance, Maurice Farber's 
study comparing British and American attitudes toward socialization 

16 A questionnaire study based on a Swedish sample reports that "significant 
positive correlations were also found between authoritarianism of upbringing 
and authoritarianism of both political and child-rearing attitudes." R. H. Willis, 
"Political and Child-Rearing Attitudes in Sweden," Journal of Abnormal and 
Social Psychology, 53 (1956), p. 77. 

16 Ralph Linton, "The Concept of National Character," in Alfred H. Stanton 
and Stewart E. Perry, eds., Personality and Political Crisis (Glencoe, 111.: The 
Free Press, 1951), p. 146. 

1T Ralph Linton argues: "It seems highly improbable that any totalitarian type 
of organization could be made to operate in the United States for any length 
of time. The average American is reared with little respect for his parents' 
authority and finds this attitude reinforced by a general indifference or 
hostility toward government." Loc> cit. 

280 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

(cited earlier), shows that in bringing up children the British try to "sup- 
press those impulses which are socially disturbing," whereas the American 
pattern aims at developing the skills required to succeed. 18 It could be 
argued that this difference reflects national personality differences as 
demonstrated in the variations in the mosaics that British and American 
children construct when subjected to psychological tests. British children 
are much more likely than American children to construct "abstract, sym- 
metrical, balanced, conventional patterns/' whereas even when American 
children construct this type of pattern "it is much more apt to show a 
color or piece variant which breaks its symmetrical perfection." 19 And 
British youth, in turn, are seemingly less rigid than German youth. 
These variations among the psychological responses of American, 
British, and German young people would appear to agree with the 
hypothesis that national personality traits and political systems are closely 
related. Such a conclusion would be unwarranted, however. British 
values, for example, emphasize more rigid family authority relations 
than do American but, as we have seen, the greater British acceptance 
of elitism also fosters a viable parliamentary democracy! 

Could we say, however, that there is some minimum level of so-called 
democratic traits that are requisite in "national character" for a nation 
successfully to develop a democratic polity? The French case suggests 
that even this relating of the degree to which "democratic" traits are 
prevalent to a polity's democratic potential is too simple. French youth 
fall somewhere between British and American personality responses 
along a continuum between individual free expression and traditional ways 
of thinking. While insisting that the child copy pre-existing models in 
order to train his mind, the French school also encourages individual 
thinking and the development of F esprit critique. 20 The object is not so 
much to suppress impulses as to train them. And although discipline is 
strict in the French family, the father takes more of a supervising than a 
strictly authoritarian role. 21 "Democratic" traits do show up in tests of 
French national character; but France has not been able to develop a 
viable democracy. Thus, simply ranking polities according to the degree 
to which "democratic" traits are prevalent does not tell us much about 
the necessary conditions for successful democratic institutions. 

18 Farber, "English and American Values . . . ," op. cit., pp. 245-246. 

19 U. Steward and L. Leland, "American versus English Mosaics," Journal of 
Projective Techniques, 16 (1952), pp. 246-248. 

20 Metraux and Mead, Themes in French Culture, pp. 32-35. 

21 Ibid., pp. 16-18. 

Values, Social Character, and the Democratic Polity 281 

Since similar family and educational structures are to be found in both 
stable and unstable democracies, the question clearly arises whether a 
democratic system requires "democratic personalities." If we recognize, 
as the previous chapters have argued, that stable democracy is possible 
under varying value systems and kinds of hierarchical relationships, it is 
probable that the kind of personality most congruent with any given 
political structure varies, not with the political structure itself, but rather 
with the value system of that political structure. The modal personality 
response which encourages democratic stability in a society emphasizing 
the values of achievement and equality may be very different from the 
one best related to a social system organized around ascriptive and elitist 
norms. 22 For instance, an emphasis on respect for authority and the need 
for discipline can conceivably be linked to the absence of organized ex- 
pressions of populist intolerance, as in Sweden or Switzerland. But similar 
emphases on home discipline in the German context are frequently cited 
as being causally related to the supposed propensity for political authori- 
tarianism of many Germans. 

Research in this as yet underdeveloped area of political inquiry will be 
considerably strengthened if it continues with the recognition that highly 
different social structures and value systems are congruent with stable 
democracy or authoritarianism, and that varying ways of organizing social 
systems around different value patterns may each be related to different 
modal personality characteristics. 

The Inner-directed versus the Other-directed Personality 

There has also been considerable discussion in the last decade on the 
way in which value patterns affect the propensity of citizens of various 
societies to exhibit "inner" or "other" directed behavioral or personality 
traits. These distinctions of David Riesman, discussed in Chapter 3, refer 
to the sources of individual goals. As we have seen, Riesman suggests that 
the inner-directed individual has his goals implanted in him from strict 
disciplinary parents, has internalized these goals, and works toward them 
relatively protected from the "bufferings of his external environment." 
In contrast, the other-directed person has been led by different socializa- 
tion processes to find his source of direction from his contemporaries; as 

22 Eckstein, A Theory of Stable Democracy, suggests, in effect, that societies 
with more authoritarian social relations require a more "authoritarian" form of 
democracy than those with more equalitarian patterns of behavior. 

282 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

their "signals" shift, so do his goals. 23 (For purposes of this discussion, the 
issue of whether or not the reactions subsumed under these headings are 
deeply rooted in personality is irrelevant.) 

Earlier I attempted to demonstrate that there is a causal relationship 
between an emphasis on achievement and equalitarianism and other- 
directedness, together with the converse proposition, that inner-directed 
behavior is more prevalent in ascriptive and elitist oriented societies. Spe- 
cifically, I argued that the achievement-equalitarian pattern results in a 
stratification system which denies stable status, and that the consequent 
acute status anxiety presses people to behave in an other-directed manner. 
Conversely, ascription and elitism reduce the need to propitiate others in 
order to establish or perpetuate a claim to high esteem. 

These behavioral or personality constructs may be linked to a specifica- 
tion of the functional requisites for democracy, since democracy obvi- 
ously entails a great deal of bargaining and compromise, behavior which 
seems more in line with other-directedness than with inner-directedness. 
Hence, the effect of a stress on achievement and equalitarianism, to- 
gether with the growth of bureaucracy and urbanism factors which 
Reisman suggests increase other-directedness would seem to strengthen 
the conditions for democracy. However, this conclusion seems less ob- 
vious when we consider the implications of a purely other-directed popu- 
lace attempting to function in a consensual-decision process. Such a 
populace would be engaged in an endless search for approval and for 
direction, a situation conducive to high anxiety and great anomic poten- 
tialities on the level of the total population, and to weak leadership on the 
elite level. It is this supposed emphasis in American society on other- 
directedness that leads Riesman to suggest that power in America is frag- 
mented and is characterized by interaction among various "veto-groups." 
He argues that the American elites are so concerned with the need for 
approval that they are inhibited from acting in ways that will be opposed 
by a significant segment of the polity. Democracy requires conflict as well 
as consensus, and other-directed man is incapable of participating in sus- 
tained real conflict, in taking positions that will make him unpopular. 

Ralf Dahrendorf, in a perceptive essay on this very problem of the 

28 See The Lonely Crowd (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1950). 
An excellent experimental study which indicates that these concepts actually 
correspond to deep-rooted personality traits is reported by Elaine Graham 
Sofer, "Inner-Direction, Other-Direction, and Autonomy: A Study of College 
Students," in S. M. Lipset and Leo Lowenthal, eds., Culture and Social Char- 
acter (New York: The Free Press, 1961), pp. 316-348. 

Values, Social Character, and the Democratic Polity 283 

viability of democracy in a country of other-directed citizens, puts the 
matter even more strongly. 24 He points out that in modern democracies 
a considerable amount of political power is lodged in the governmental 
bureaucracy. This bureaucracy, which maintains itself through the vicis- 
situdes of changing political parties and leaderships, structurally requires 
someone to provide it with policies which it can then administer. If , as is 
likely in an other-directed society, such a leader, or group of leaders, can- 
not be found in the prevailing political parties, they will be found else- 
where, possibly in totalitarian parties. 

The inner-directed man, if he is sufficiently aware of his own long-run 
interests, and if he has internalized the rules of the game, would seem 
better able to fulfill the role requirements for democratic citizens and 
leaders. Inner-direction, however, also posits some problems for democ- 
racy. Decision-making within a group or society predominantly composed 
of such types is apt to be a painfully slow process. Perhaps even more 
significant, the purely inner-directed type, if he existed, would have diffi- 
culty in adjusting his values to encompass the span between the situation 
in which he internalized them and that in which he is called upon to apply 

Indeed, one could argue that the French electorate find the pragmatic 
compromises necessary to maintain a populist democracy difficult pre- 
cisely because they are more inner-directed than Americans. The sociali- 
zation of the French child, in comparison to that of the American child, 
seems conducive to greater inner direction. As a French child analyst has 
put it: "The French child must constantly 'prepare his future'; he must 
not have fun because he must learn how to live." 25 French parents mediate 
the child's contact with the world outside the family and discourage 
those contacts with his peers that the child seeks out on his own. 26 This 
practice is justified by the argument that before setting out on his own a 
child must be taught "good habits (les bonnes habitudes) and given edu- 
cation (education, formation) and training (instruction) in the specific 

24 Ralf Dahrendorf, "Democracy without Liberty: An Essay on the Politics 

of Other-directed Man," in S. M. Lipset and Leo Lowenthal, eds., Culture and 

Social Character (New York: The Free Press, 1961), pp. 175-206. 

^Francoise Dolto, "French and American Children as Seen by a French 

Child Analyst," in Margaret Mead and Martha Wolfenstein, eds., Childhood 

in Contemporary Cultures (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956), pp. 


26 Martha Wolfenstein, "French Parents Take Their Children to the Park," 

in M. Mead and M. Wolfenstein, eds., Childhood in Contemporary Cultures 

(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956), pp. 300-305. 

284 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

skills on which the achievement of individuality and adulthood depend. 
Thereafter they are able to make reasonable choices, to elaborate in their 
own way upon what they already are; they are formed." 27 

However, the difference between the fostering of inner direction in 
French and American socialization practices can be only a matter of 
degree. As in the case of the pattern variables, the personality or behav- 
ioral constructs of inner- and other-directed men cannot and do not in- 
volve any assumption that men or groups are entirely one or the other. 
Clearly, noone who reacted wholly in the way assumed by one or the 
other type could function. The matter at issue at any time is the extent to 
which the socialization process or structural conditions press men to be- 
have more like one polar type than the other. Requisite to the functioning 
of a political democracy are citizens (and especially political leaders) who 
are sufficiently inner-directed to sustain a desired policy direction, and to 
have internalized a strong valuation of certain rules of the game. How- 
ever, they should be sufficiently other-directed to be willing to re-examine 
their premises when faced with the disapproval of others, to perceive 
needed adjustments and compromises, and to make these without experi- 
encing traumatic psychological disturbances. 28 

To prescribe the type of social structure which would produce the 
optimum ratio between "inner" and "other" directedness is clearly im- 
possible. The very notion of optimum ratio is itself merely an analytic 
construct: every social and political system will be somewhat different. 
If we assume, however, the need to "protect" individuals from constant 
concern with what others think of them, then a certain degree of 
ascription-particularism-diffuseness-elitism is necessary. This conclusion 
rektes back to the previous discussion of the conditions which would in- 
hibit the destructive tendencies of populist contempt for due process. To 

27 Metraux and Mead, Themes in French Culture, p. 27. 

28 In a perceptive essay which attempts to find implications of personal- 
ity typologies for political and social science, Robert Lane suggests that 
"other-direction" is functional in a pluralist society such as the contem- 
porary United States, while "inner-direction" best fits the political needs of a 
non-pluralistic democracy, that is, one in which the citizenry is relatively 
"atomized" and not linked to the polity by identification with various sec- 
ondary, mediating institutions. In the latter situation, supposedly characteristic 
of the early days of the American Republic, strong moral attitudes dictated 
political participation and concern; pluralism, however, has too many sources 
of conflict among the various organizations and interest groups to operate 
well if those involved in such groups all feel they must win or else. See 
"Political Character and Political Analysis," Psychiatry, 16 (1953), pp. 387-398. 

Values, Social Character, and the Democratic Polity 285 

avoid the excesses which may be perceived as inherent in populism and in 
other-direction, mechanisms are necessary which will limit the depend- 
ence of the politically relevant elites upon the day-to-day fluctuations in 
mass opinion. And in addition to such mechanisms the normative processes 
required seem derivative from the same value patterns. 

But while efforts to relate national character to the characteristics of 
the polity such as those discussed here should be encouraged, it must 
be noted that any attempt closely to link personality and child-rearing 
patterns to the political or other macroscopic structures of so complex 
and differentiated a unit as a nation, must fail. Talcott Parsons has well 
stressed the point that "no social system is really well integrated or fully 
integrated. There is no neat one-to-one correspondence between social 
structure and personality; the social system has to be seen as a function- 
ing system . . . dynamically changing and dynamically interacting with 
its individual members, not only in an early child-training period but 
throughout their lives." 29 

29 Talcott Parsons, "Personality and Social Structure," in Alfred H. Stanton 
and Stewart E. Perry, eds., Personality and Political Crisis (Glencoe, DL: The 
Free Press, 1951), p. 65. 

Party Systems and 
the Representation 
of Social Groups 


Thus far in this book, I have largely stressed the influence of national 
value systems on specific institutions. This form of "sociological deter- 
minism" is properly subject to the criticism that it ignores ways in which 
men may change their society and its values by changing its structure. 
We know that men may modify their conditions of existence by chang- 
ing the laws which govern them, a process which may be the first step 
on the road to changing values. So I would like to bring to a close this 
analysis of the relation of values to the stability of American and other 
polities by pointing out ways in which the governmental institutions of 
the polity itself may affect stability. The conclusion of this discussion 
returns to some of the issues raised in the first section of the book, the 
factors which affect the polity formed in new nations. 

We have had major extremist social movements in this country, of 
which the Know Nothing Party and the Ku Klux Klan are perhaps the 
most extreme, but among which must be included Abolitionism, Populism, 
Prohibitionism, and the like. Although some of these movements have be- 
come organized into political parties, they have never been able to sustain 
themselves, and their programs have been dependent upon endorsement by 
one of the major political parties for influence in the national power arena. 
To a considerable degree one must recognize that the failure of these and 
other movements, such as the Socialist, to create viable third parties which 
would change the political system is as much a consequence of the legal 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 287 

structure of the polity as it is of elements in the value system or of the 
distribution of wealth. 

In order to generalize about the significance of a nation's constitutional 
system in stabilizing its polity, we need concepts which permit us to dis- 
tinguish the role played by the legal structure from the effect of various 
social forces within the polity. A step in this direction has been taken by 
Talcott Parsons. 1 He has argued that the polity can be seen as providing 
generalized leadership for the larger social system in setting and attaining 
collective goals, and that this is acknowledged by interested social groups 
who supply generalized support in the expectation of "a good life," as 
they understand it. Within this polity, a variety of social groups form and 
advocate the particular policies that eventually result in the specific deci- 
sions of public officers, which then become binding on all citizens. The 
competitive struggle within the elite, sometimes for generalized but 
usually for specific support, gives those outside the authority structure 
access to political power. 

This process works through the representation system. 2 It is given shape 
by those institutional practices which have been developed in democratic 
societies notably party systems and interest organizations to facilitate 
interchange between authority and the spontaneous groupings of society. 
This internal differentiation produces its own power structure and its own 
problems of integration, which within limits may also affect the stability 
of the polity. 

Within the representative system, some of the aspirations of the sub- 
groups in the society are transformed into demands; these demands are 
then killed, compromised, or magnified into issues that are fed into the 
authority system as party policies or as the detailed recommendations of 
interest groups. Inchoate loyalties are turned into organized support. 
Thus the system provides grist for the political mill and also some of the 
power that drives it, depending upon how far the polity derives its effec- 
tiveness and legitimacy from organized support. 

1 Talcott Parsons, "Voting and the Equilibrium of the American Political 
System," in Eugene Burdick and Arthur Brodbeck, eds., American Voting 
Behavior (Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press, 1959), pp. 80-120; see also William 
Mitchell, The American Polity (New York: The Free Press, 1963). 

2 For a comprehensive summary of definitions, see John A. Fairlie, "The 
Nature of Political Representation," The American Political Science Review, 
34 (1940), pp. 236-248, 456-466; for articles dealing with various aspects of 
the system, see Harry Eckstein and David E. Apter, eds., Comparative 
Politic? (New York: The Free Press, 1963), pp. 97-132. 

288 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

On the other hand, the representative system also receives information 
and public policy commitments from the authority structure wherein 
decisions are reached and implemented. These in turn shape the demands 
within the system, and legitimate the leadership and domination. This 
"input" from the side of authority may be general (political leadership at 
various levels, party discipline) or specific (electoral laws, regulation of 
the lobby), suppressing some demands, raising others into issues, and en- 
forcing compromise. Into the social base the political system puts the 
political education of citizens and the political consciousness of groups. 
Whether or not these have consequences that are functional for the 
polity as a whole depends largely upon the form and working of the 
representative structure. 

Viewed in this way, representation is neither simply a means of politi- 
cal adjustment to social pressures nor an instrument of manipulation. It 
may contribute to the maintenance or dissolution of primary ties, to the 
perception of common or diverse interests, to the socialization or aliena- 
tion of elites, to the effectiveness or feebleness of the polity in attaining 
societal goals, and to the political unity or incoherence of society as a 
whole. This chapter will consider some aspects of the behavior of social 
groups in politics, taking into account the political alternatives which face 
the electorates of different countries, with special reference to the ways 
in which various party systems organize and affect their social bases. It is 
not primarily concerned with the differentials between power wielded by 
various social groups, nor will economic variables be given much promi- 
nence. Its aim is to show how certain combinations of relationships be- 
tween parties and social bases contribute to the possibility of stable and 
efficient government. 

Parties are by far the most important part of the representative struc- 
ture in complex democratic societies. Such societies show some variation 
in the salience of particular solidary groupings as the source of demands 
and support; but generally, under contemporary industrial conditions, the 
stratification system has been the prime source of sustained internal cleav- 
age classes have been the most important bases of political diversity. 8 

The character and number of the political parties in a country are 

3 They, of course, are far from being the only important such bases. Others, 
such as religious, ethnic, or linguistic groups, regions, and rural-urban 
groupings, have formed the basis for separate parties or differential backings 
for particular parties. For a detailed discussion of the way in which different 
groups have varied in support for parties in different democratic countries, 
see S. M. Lipset, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Garden City, 
N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960), pp. 228-282. 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 289 

perhaps the chief determinants of the extent to which the government acts 
through a stable system of interchanges between the key solidary groups 
and tie political elite. Discussions of the causes and consequences of 
diverse party systems often turn upon the question of whether it is social 
structure or electoral arrangements that mainly determine the different 
types. Some argue that the character and number of parties flow almost 
directly from the social cleavages in a country; others have claimed that 
the electoral system in use proportional representation or the single- 
member district plurality method has been the main source of stability or 
instability in democracies. On the whole, this is a sham dispute. There is 
no reason to believe either that social cleavage creates political cleavage, 
or that political cleavage will give rise to social controversies. As Maurice 
Duverger has said: "The party system and the electoral system are two 
realities that are indissolubly linked, and even difficult sometimes to 
separate by analysis." 4 

Social Structure and the Character of the Party System 

The representative system may be said to have a singular influence on 
the stability of the polity only when the economic and social conditions 
for stable democracy that I have described in the previous chapters (and 
in my Political Man) have been taken into account. Yet, paradoxically, 
these conditions affect the workings of the democracy precisely through 
their influence on the representative system. The ability of a democratic 
political system to win or retain the support of different solidary group- 
ings depends largely on whether all the major parties already accept 
democratic principles. If some parties reject the system, it may break 
down even if democracy is favored by a substantial majority. 

4 Maurice Duverger, Political Parties (London: Methuen, 1954), p. 204. Du- 
verger's book, however, is the best recent effort to demonstrate the causal 
effect of electoral systems. A sophisticated critique of Duverger and the 
general emphasis on electoral systems may be found in G. E. Lavau, Partis 
politiques et realites societies (Paris: Armand Colin, 1953); see also Aaron 
Wildavsky, "A Methodological Critique of Duverger's Political Parties? in 
Eckstein and Apter, Comparative Politics, pp. 368-375. There is a com- 
prehensive statement of all the arguments for and against proportional repre- 
sentation in Alfred De Grazia, Public and Republic (New York: Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1951). A good general discussion of the theory of electoral systems 
is D. Hogan, Election and Representation (Cork: Cork University Press, 
1945). Differing analyses and points of view are reprinted in Eckstein and 
Apter, eds., Comparative Politics, pp. 247-324. 

290 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

The evidence seems quite clear that stable democracies are largely to 
be found in more well-to-do nations, where greater wealth is associated 
with patterns which reduce internal tension f or example, more equal dis- 
tribution of income and of education, less emphasis on barriers between 
classes, and the existence of a relatively large middle class. In addition, the 
stability of democratic systems depends upon the extent to which they 
have retained or developed legitimacy, a "believed-in tide to rule," for 
the political elite. Such legitimacy, as we have seen, has been most secure 
where the society could admit the lower strata to full citizenship and to 
the rights of participation in the economic and political systems, and 
could at the same time allow the traditionally privileged strata to keep 
their high status while yielding their power. 

But if legitimacy and economic development define the boundaries 
within which political conflict occurs, there nevertheless remains great 
variation in the nature of party systems. Why do they take so many 
different forms? I have suggested that to some extent this depends upon 
the ways in which varying combinations of value orientations have per- 
meated the attitudes toward stratification in a nation. The basic (and 
obvious) fact is that the more clear-cut the status demarcation lines in a 
country, the more likely there exist explicitly strata-oriented parties. The 
failure of Canada and the United States to develop a major working-class 
party, and the relative stability of their democratic systems, may be par- 
tially explained by the difficulty of developing a working-class political 
consciousness where no rigid status groups already existed to create a 
perception of common interests. On the European continent, workers 
were placed in a common class by the value system of the society, and 
they absorbed a political "consciousness of kind" from the social struc- 
ture. Marxists did not have to teach European workers that they formed 
a class; the ascriptive values of the society did it for them. 

In the English-speaking parts of the Commonwealth, Labour parties have 
been class oriented and class based, yet much less imbued with class feel- 
ing than those of continental Europe, as is shown by their early willing- 
ness to cooperate with bourgeois parties, and their consistent opposition 
to Marxist and revolutionary ideology. The absence of a base for intense 
class conflict is also afHrmed by the bent toward a two-party system 
which has characterized their politics, since inherent in a two-party sys- 
tem is the need for cooperation among diverse strata. In Australia and 
New Zealand, this pattern may be explained, as it can in Canada and the 
United States, by the absence of feudal tradition. In Britain, the weakness 
of working-class extremism is often attributed to the country having 
borne the early tensions of industrialization before the rise of modern 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 291 

socialism, and, after the working-class movement had appeared, to its 
prosperity. On the other hand, as I have argued in Chapter 6, the uniquely 
"open" and "responsible" character of the British aristocracy enabled it to 
retain power and influence late into the capitalist period, thus helping to 
soften the antagonism of the working classes to the state and to society. 5 

The great emphasis on status differentiation in Germany may also have 
been responsible for the large number of middle- and upper-class parties, 
each representing a distinct status group on a national or regional basis 
and each possessing its own ideology, which existed in pre-Nazi Ger- 
many, 6 Similarly, it has been suggested that the relative failure of the 
German Socialists to gain rural backing, and their weakness among 
the poorer urban working class, reflected the hostility of the better 
paid and more skilled workers, who dominated the movement, toward 
other depressed segments of the population such as the so-called Lwnpen- 
proletariat a hostility which has not existed in other countries. 7 The 
split within the working class between Socialists and Communists in 
Weimar Germany was also partly due to this status consciousness of the 
skilled workers in the Social-Democratic Party, who left the more de- 
pressed sector to be recruited by the Communists. Robert Michels has 
pointed out how their sense of superiority was reflected in party litera- 
ture, which attacked the Communists by arguing that their supporters 
were largely the shiftless Lumpenproletariat. s 

The failure of the multi-party system based on distinct and rigid status 
groups to revive in the Federal Republic is due to a number of causes. 9 
Fundamentally, it reflects the weakening of the old status structure during 

5 Joseph Schnmpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (New York: 
Harper & Bros., 1947), pp. 134-139. 

6 Sigmund Neumann, Die deutschen Parteien: Wesen und Wandel nach dem 
Kriege (Berlin: Junder und Dunnhaupt, 1932); Theodor Geiger, Die soziale 
Schichtung des deutschen Volkes (Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke, 1932), p. 79. 

7 See Robert Michels, "Die deutschen Sozialdemokratie, I: Parteimitgliedschaft 
und soziale Zusammensetzung," Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozial- 
politik, 26 (1906), pp. 512-513; Robert Lowie, Toward Understanding Ger- 
many (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1954), p. 138. For detailed evi- 
dence that the contemporary German Social-Democratic Party remains weak 
among the less skilled, a pattern which remains almost unique among left 
parties, see Lipset, Political Man, pp. 240-241. 

8 Robert Michels, Sozialismus und Fascismus I (Karlsruhe: G. Braun, 1925), 
pp. 78-79. 

9 It is interesting to note that in 1918 Max Weber believed that there were 
four parties "structurally inherent within German Society: a conservative, 
a democratic [liberal], a socialist, and a Catholic party." J. P. Mayer, Max 
Weber and German Politics (London: Faber and Faber, 1956), p. 101. 

292 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

the Nazi and wartime upheavals and the final blow delivered by the end 
of Prussian domination. Partition removed from view the glaring inequali- 
ties of the east and destroyed the stronghold from which the Junkers had 
dominated the army and defied the Weimar Republic; simultaneously, the 
greater homogeneity of western Germany now became a national homo- 
geneity, reinforced by the economic growth which strengthened the 
achievement values of a profoundly bourgeois culture. 10 This homogene- 
ity seems to be expressed in a genuine, if rather skeptical, consensus, re- 
jecting both the Nazi past and the Communist alternative, and more easily 
accepted by a generation maturing in an era of expansion when the old 
ruling groups play little part either as authority or model. Its political 
manifestation is an interest-group structure much like that of Britain, 
thoroughly interlaced with the party system, and bringing with it an 
increasing political professionalism. The former bearers of ideology the 
intellectuals, the jurists, and the bureaucrats have largely abdicated their 
special role under the Rechtsstaat, and a pragmatic approach has replaced 
die old emphasis upon the objective rationality of the expert. The Social- 
Democratic Party has more and more disowned its Marxist heritage, and 
the interdenominational Christianity of the Christian Democratic Union 
is more a catch-all than an ideology. The accompanying bureaucratiza- 
tion of the two major parties had led to a pattern of occasional, mediated 
participation by the ordinary citizen in politics, which is generally re- 
garded as a major source of both stability and flexibility in modern 
democratic electorates. 

These general causes were supplemented by the circumstances attend- 
ing the birth of the present parties. The power to make certain major de- 
cisions was retained by the occupying forces until the early 1950's, which 
restricted the scope of political contention. The parties called into exist- 
ence by the Allies in 1946 to fill the political vacuum became, as Dolf 
Sternberger has put it, like "stakes rammed into a swamp," and were able 
to give shape to most of the emerging tendencies. This position was con- 
solidated by the subsequent modifications of proportional representation, 
by the legal restrictions upon extremist parties, and by the statesmanship 
of Adenauer. In particular, the stability of the parties has been aided by 
their ascendancy over the bureaucracy. The acceptance by civil servants 
of the constitution and the parties as legitimate is largely a product of the 
social changes mentioned above and the political stability resulting from 
them; it is symbolized, and also advanced, by the practice of staffing top 

10 See Karl W. Deutsch and Lewis J. Edinger, Germany Rejoins the Powers 
(Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1959), pp. 35-47. 

"Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 293 

civil service positions below the ministerial level with political ap- 
pointees. 11 

The discussion so far has sketched some of the conditions under which 
support will be available for different kinds of political leadership. But the 
number and nature of political parties, the claims they stake out, and the 
policies they advocate, do not result automatically from underlying social 
cleavages. Political systems possess a certain (varying) autonomy within 
the larger social system, and it is appropriate to ask how the restraints im- 
posed by the political order itself affect the capacity of parties to provide 
generalized leadership in different countries. 

Social Structure and Electoral Systems 

Concern with formal constitutional provisions has generally been out- 
side the province of political sociology. Sociologists tend to see party 
cleavages as reflections of an underlying structure, and hence, wittingly 
or not, frown on efforts to present the enacted rules of the game as key 
causal elements of a social structure. The sociologist's image of a social 
system, all of whose parts are interdependent, is at odds with the view of 
many political scientists, who believe that such seemingly minor differ- 
ences in systems as variations in the way in which officials are elected can 
lead to stability or instability. An examination of comparative politics sug- 
gests that the political scientists are right, in that electoral laws determine 
the nature of the party system as much as any other structural variable. 

The available evidence gathered together by political scientists such as 
E. E. Schattschneider, F. A. Hermens, Maurice Duverger, and many others 
indicates that proportional representation encourages the appearance or 
continuance of more relatively large parties than does the plurality 
system, in which the candidate receiving the most votes in an electoral 
unit is elected. Wherever we find a two-party system working (wherever 
the usual situation is the alternating control of government by one of two 
parties, with an over-all majority of representatives) we find also an 
electoral system which debars from representation in government those 
parties which cannot win a plurality of votes in a geographical election 
district. On the other hand, every country which uses proportional repre- 
sentation has four or more parties represented in the legislature and, ex- 
cept in Norway, Sweden, and Ireland in recent decades, absolute parlia- 
mentary majorities of one party have been extremely rare. 

11 See Otto Kirchheimer, "The Political Scene in West Germany," World 
Politics, 9 (1957), pp. 433-445, and the sources cited there. 

294 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

If enough cases existed for analysis, the following rank-order correla- 
tion might be found between electoral systems and the number of political 
parties: presidential system with single-member districts and one plurality 
election two parties; parliamentary system with single-member districts 
and one plurality election tendency to two parties; parliamentary system 
with single-member districts and alternative ballot or run-off (second) 
election tendency to many parties; proportional representation many 

The thesis that the plurality system tends to produce or maintain a two- 
party system needs some qualification. Groups centered in distinct regions 
or political units may gain representation, and may sometimes influence 
policy, within such systems, even where cabinet government is conducted 
by means of a parliamentary majority. In Great Britain, ParnelTs Irish 
party was able to hold its own in the House of Commons during the latter 
part of the nineteenth century through solid regional support. The initial 
growth of socialist parties in European countries with single-member dis- 
tricts depended on their winning in solidly working-class constituencies, 
just as various ethnic parties have achieved regional support in India, and 
from time to time agrarian "third parties" have won considerable backing 
in the more rural provinces of Canada. 

But the requirement of ecological isolation limits the type of third party 
which can succeed in a two-party system with single-member districts. It 
must possess a strong appeal to a homogeneous part of the population 
whose residential areas correspond to electoral units. The problem which 
this poses is illustrated by the British Liberal Party, which, according to 
some public opinion studies, would secure as much as 25 per cent of the 
national vote in a parliamentary election under proportional representa- 
tion, where every vote counted. The existing single-member districts re- 
duce the Liberals to impotence, since their appeal is not to groups which 
dominate electoral districts but to a large middle-class sector which is usu- 
ally in a minority in every constituency. This not only keeps the Liberals 
out of Parliament but deprives them of most of their votes, since many 
prospective Liberals prefer to vote for the lesser of two electable evils. 
To take another case, all efforts to form third parties in the United States 
have proved futile because the effective constituency in national elections 
is really the entire country, and in state elections the entire state is the 
effective constituency. The emphasis on presidential or gubernatorial elec- 
tions has prevented American third parties from building up local con- 
stituency strength as labor, agrarian, religious, or ethnic parties have done 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 295 

in some other single-member constituency systems. 12 As evidence for this 
view, third parties have gained their greatest strength in municipal or 
occasionally state elections, and have almost invariably lost strength in 
subsequent presidential elections. The American Socialist Party attained 
its greatest electoral success in municipal elections and actually captured 
the government of a number of cities. Its high point as an electoral force 
was in the municipal elections of 1917, in which it attained an average 
vote of 20 per cent in a number of major cities. 13 In general, American 
third parties have been much more successful in Congressional elections 
conducted in non-presidential election years than in those in which a 
president was also being elected. 

Recognition of the inability to create a new national party has led many 
American leftists, who would have preferred a new radical party, to 
operate as factions within one of the old parties, and at different times 
since 1920 socialist or near-socialist groups have either controlled or 
greatly influenced one of the two major parties in a large number of 

The motives underlying the electorate's refusal to sustain third parties, 
in systems where the candidate with the most votes is elected and where 
third parties are effectively barred from representation, have been ana- 
lyzed in detail in the numerous studies of electoral systems, and I will not 
discuss them here. Essentially, polarization between two parties is main- 
tained by those factors which lead people to see a third party vote as a 
"wasted vote." 14 

Party Systems and the Eases of Social Cleavage 

The interrelated effects of electoral systems and social cleavages may 
be seen in a comparison of the party systems in different parts of the 
British Commonwealth, in the United States, and in France. 

There is general recognition that stable two-party government works 

12 The argument and best evidence for this thesis may be found in E. E. 
Schattschneider, Party Government (New York: Rinehart and Co., 1942), 
especially pp. 65-98. 

13 James Weinstein, "Anti-war Sentiment and the Socialist Party, 1917-1918," 
Political Science Quarterly, 74 (1959), pp. 223-239; Paul H. Douglas, "The 
Socialist Vote in the 1917 Municipal Elections," National Municipal Review, 
7 (1918), pp. 131-139. 

14 See Duverger, Political Parties, pp. 224-228, 246-250; and E. E. Schatt- 
schneider, Party Government, pp. 80-84. 

296 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

best in Great Britain. Members of Parliament are elected in single-member 
constituencies in which one factor class position is the basic source of 
political difference. 15 Differences based on regions, religious or ethnic 
allegiances, urban-rural conflicts, or past historical feuds are unimportant 
or affect groups too small to organize on their own behalf. But if two- 
party government presents its best and simplest face in Britain, multi-party 
government has created the most difficult and complicated conditions in 
France. Until the Gaullist presidential system began to press the French 
parties together, France had at least six important political groupings, in 
addition to some minor ones. For many decades it has been divided be- 
tween clericals and anti-clericals, supporters and opponents of a planned 
economy, and supporters and opponents of parliamentary government, 
with a few rural-urban and regional cleavages as well. Table VII shows 
the ways these differences have been reflected in French party life during 
the period from 1955 to 1963. 16 

Before De Gaulle created a presidency directly elected by the people, 
France appeared to be a country whose social fragmentation dictated 
the need for a multi-party system, whatever electoral laws were in force. 
The fact remains, however, that the various parliamentary electoral sys- 
tems in use throughout most of the history of the Third, Fourth, and 
Fifth republics encouraged the creation or perpetuation of small parties. 
The experiences of Britain and France, standing near the extremes of 
stable and unstable government, might suggest that the nature of group 
differences is the key to the number of parties in a system; yet even for 
these nations this conclusion may be questioned. Since the development 
of adult suffrage, Britain has never had a pure two-party system. In the 
late nineteenth century there was a strong Irish third party; before World 
War I, four parties were represented in the Commons: the Liberals, the 

15 "British politics are almost wholly innocent of those issues which cross the 
social lines in other lands, for example, race, nationality, religion, town and 
country interests, regional interest, or the conflict between authoritarian and 
parliamentary methods." See John Bonham, The Middle Class Vote (London: 
Faber and Faber, 1954), pp. 194-195; and Leslie Lipson, "The Two-Party 
System in British Politics," American Political Science Review, 47 (1953), 
pp. 337-358. 

16 The table, of course, oversimplifies present divisions. Almost no political 
group in France is actually for a "free economy." The Gaullist government 
has continued and even extended the comprehensive system of planning begun 
under the Fourth Republic. This system, however, is a voluntary one; private 
industry need not conform, though the state has extensive powers through its 
ownership of banks, insurance companies, and many industries. Communist 
and Gaullist "anti-parliamentary" positions are quite different. The first 
favors a dictator; the second, an "American-type" president. 

Party Systems and the 'Representation of Social Groups 297 

Table VII 

Overlapping of Qeavages in France* 





(left Gaullists) 






Parliamentary Anti-Parliamentary Parliamentary Anti-Parliamentary 
Socialists Communists Radicals Poujadistsf 

* Adapted -from a somewhat similar diagram in Duverger, Political Parties 
(London: Methuen, 1954), p. 232. 
practically dead. 

Conservatives, the Irish, and Labour; between 1918 and 1931 three major 
parties were represented; and since then the Liberal Party has remained a 
serious electoral force even though the plurality system minimizes its 
strength in Parliament. 17 

1T For a detailed report on the issues and facts involved, see D. E. Butler, The 
Electoral System in Britain 191S-1951 (New York: Oxford University Press, 
1953). Though many argue from historical evidence that the British two-party 
system derives from particular national characteristics, since two parties or 
tendencies preceded the introduction of the present single-member constitu- 
ency in the mid-nineteenth century, this argument also may be questioned. 
G. E. Lavau, Partis politiques et realties sociales, has pointed out that the 
House of Commons had unstable majorities, with members shifting their 
support from government to opposition throughout much of the nineteenth 
century. Duverger contends that in France itself the contemporary complex 
political substructure was built "upon the fundamental conflict which domi- 
nated the nineteenth century, that between conservatives and liberals. . . . 
The principal actors were a landowning aristocracy, bound to monarchical 
principles . . . and, opposed to this aristocracy, an industrial, commercial and 
intellectual bourgeoisie, attracted to the principles of political liberty. . . . The 
first phase in the moulding of the prevailing spirit in modern Europe ended 
wth the appearance and development of the socialist parties. . . . Between 1900 
and 1914, the bipartisan tendency which had dominated the preceding century 
was replaced everywhere by a swing towards tripartisanslup; the 'conserva- 
tive-liberal' duo now changed to a 'conservative-liberal-socialist' trio." Maurice 
Duverger, "Public Opinion and Political Parties in France," American Political 
Science Review, 46 (1952), p. 1070. See also Club Jean Moulin, Vttat et le 
citoyen (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1961), pp. 249-253, 325-343. 

298 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

French political history offers striking examples of the ways in which 
formal political institutions may decisively affect political cleavage, and 
therefore the stability of the democratic system. Despite deep-rooted 
social tensions and lack of consensus on fundamental political, religious, 
and economic issues, the Third Republic's electoral system diverted con- 
siderable support from the anti-democratic extremists. Its double ballot 
effectively stopped the French Communist Party from becoming a major 
force during this period. For after an auspicious start in 192 1, supported by 
a majority of the former Socialist Party and controlling its principal news- 
paper, UHwnanite, it lost ground seemingly because it was unable to 
elect members to the Chamber. As a revolutionary party opposed to 
constitutional government, it could not combine with other parties for 
the decisive second ballot, so that many of its potential voters obviously 
returned to the Socialist fold. Thus in 1928, the Communists secured 11 
per cent of the vote in the first ballot, but only 14 out of 600 seats. In the 
following election of 1932, held in the depths of the depression, the 
Communist first-ballot vote dropped to 8 per cent, and it elected less than 
2 per cent of the representatives. Almost half the Communist first-ballot 
supporters backed candidates of other parties on the second ballot, though 
the Communists did not withdraw any candidates. Even Communist party 
discipline and the worst depression in history could not induce many 
voters to "waste" their ballots. Similarly, Maurice Duverger notes "the 
complete impossibility" for fascist and right-wing extremist movements 
"to obtain any representation in parliament," although there were many 
strong fascist groups during the 1930's. 18 

The Communists became a major force in French politics only after 
they pretended to give up their opposition to parliamentary government, 
and formed the Popular Front coalition with the Radicals and Socialists 
in 1936. This enabled them to increase their first-ballot percentage to 15*6, 
and their representation in the Chamber from 1 1 to 72. 19 

But if the Third Republic demonstrated how electoral rules may punish 
and inhibit parties which oppose the system, the Fourth Republic showed 
how different rules may facilitate the ruin of democracy by nourishing 

i* Political Parties, pp. 319-320; see also F. A. Hermens, Europe between 

Democracy and Anarchy (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame 

Press, 1951), pp. 41-44, and Club Jean Moulin, Utat et le citoyen, pp. 349- 


19 For a detailed account of the events leading up to this election as well as 

an analysis of the vote, see Georges Dupeux, Le Front populaire et les 

elections de 1936 (Paris: Armand Colin, 1959). 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 299 

such parties. 20 Throughout its history, the Fourth Republic employed 
different versions of proportional representation. Its last Parliament, 
elected in 1956, was hampered by the presence of 150 Communists and 
50 Poujadists. The latter, who secured about 10 per cent of the vote, 
could probably have elected no candidates under the double ballot with 
single-member constituencies. The Fifth Republic, having returned to 
that system, elected only ten Communists and one Poujadist to its first 
Chamber and 40 Communists to its second* The Communist gains be- 
tween 1958 and 1962 were largely a result of an informal electoral alliance 
with the Socialists. And for the first time in French history, the combina- 
tion of a strong presidential system and the absence of proportional 
representation has given one tendency, the Gaullists, a parliamentary 

The United States and Canada offer a still more complex picture of the 
way in which party systems can be affected by the interrelationship be- 
tween social cleavages and methods of election. For though two-party 
politics have predominated at the national level in both countries, it is 
clear that their solidarity structure is in some ways more like that of 
France than that of Britain. Both are divided along class, ethnic, religious, 
and regional lines, and while the chief issues for groups like the southern 
whites or the French Canadians tend to separate them from the rest of 
the nation, internally they remain sharply divided over non-ethnic ques- 

It seems likely that if the United States had ever adopted proportional 
representation or even the second ballot run-off, it would have developed 
several main parties, such as the following: 1) a labor party, based on 
urban workers and perhaps on ethnic minorities outside the South; 2) a 
northern conservative party, based on the urban middle class and the 
higher-status ethnic and religious groups; 3) a southern conservative party, 

20 "It is especially important, in order to understand what the fundamental 
political problems of France actually are, to investigate why the state for too 
many years has seemed so completely powerless to hold the antagonisms and 
the divisions between the parties within reasonable bounds and to make the 
divergent forces act in concert for the general welfare. This raises the ques- 
tion of political institutions, the most important problem facing France. The 
present difficulties in this sphere stem from the fact that the political institu- 
tions that 'were adopted in 1946 in no way satisfy the requirements of the 
economic, social, and political situation. . . ." Francois Goguel, France under 
the fourth Republic (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1952), p. 146. 
(Emphasis mine.) 

300 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

comparable in support to the ante-bellum southern Whigs and Constitu- 
tional Unionists, i.e., the urban middle classes, and the more well-to-do 
rural whites; 4) a southern populist party, based on the lower white strata 
comparable to those who backed the Jacksonian Democrats in the 1830's 
and 1840's, Breckenridge and the secessionist Democrats in the election of 
1860, and various "populist" parties and agrarian factions of the Demo- 
crats in the late nineteenth century; and 5) a farmer's party, based on 
rural elements outside the South. There would probably also have been a 
number of smaller parties from time to time. 

Such differentiation has been prevented, not only by the disadvantages 
which the American presidential system lays on small parties, as discussed 
above, but also by the peculiar device of the party primary. This arrange- 
ment, by which different factions within the party may compete in state- 
conducted, intra-party contests to determine party candidates and offi- 
cials, permits the interests and values of different groups, which elsewhere 
would give rise to separate parties, to be expressed within the major 
parties. First, the various groups have been forced by the electoral system 
to identify with one or the other of the two major blocs on whatever 
basis of division matters most to them; 21 then their differences are fought 
out within each party in the primaries, although they may often still lead 
to cross-party alliances in Congress afterward. 

Few observers have been willing to recognize how comparable are the 
social bases for multiple parties in France and the United States, and how 
far the difference between them in political stability has been due to vary- 
ing constitutional structures. The French two-ballot system may be re- 
garded as a functional equivalent to the American primary elections. In 
both cases, different tendencies may compete in various ways up to the 
decisive final election. Thus, in most elections of the Third Republic, "at 
the first ballot few candidates could obtain an absolute majority, so that at 
this stage there was no fear of splitting the vote and no deterrent to 'splin- 
ter parties'; but at the second this fear became as effective as in Britain. 

21 The one other country which I know of that has a system akin to the 
American primaries is Uruguay, the most stable democracy in Latin America. 
In Uruguay, the various factions within the two major parties may each 
nominate a presidential candidate. On election day, the voters choose the 
man they prefer. When votes are counted, the party which has a majority, 
counting the votes of all its presidential candidates, wins the election, and 
the candidate of that party who received more votes than any other one of 
the party is elected president. In other words, Uruguay combines the primary 
and the final election on the same ballot 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 301 

Most constituencies then had a straight fight between a candidate of the 
Right and one of the Left. 22 

Under the Third Republic, the electoral alliances which gave decisive 
majorities to the Left or Right would always break down in parliament, 
hence the constant reshuffling of cabinets. The common assumption that 
these coalitions were so fragile because they tried to harmonize incom- 
patible views and interests such as those of the Radicals, as the party of 
small business, with those of the Socialists, as the workers' party over- 
looks the fact that these differences have been no sharper than some 
within the American parties. The divergencies on domestic issues between 
conservative southern Democrats and left-liberal northern Democrats, or 
on foreign affairs between Republicans from the provincial Midwest and 
Republicans from the metropolitan centers of the East, with their close 
ties to international big business, are fully as great. The American party 
factions have been held together largely by the presidential system. Thus, 
the changing congressional majorities on questions which cut across party 
lines are comparable to the shifts in the Chamber as new issues were taken 
up. Since in America this cannot change the party in control of the execu- 
tive, however, there has been continuity of executive action and also a 
substantial amount of party loyalty in important congressional votes, as 
David Truman has demonstrated. 23 And the "American" elements intro- 
duced into the French constitution by General De Gaulle seem to be hav- 
ing comparable effects on the party system there. 

Canada is perhaps an even more interesting case of interaction of the 
various elements which have been discussed. Its social structure and bases 
for political division are complex and comparable to the American and 
French. It retains, however, die British electoral and parliamentary sys- 
tem, which requires disciplined parliamentary action and does not permit 
the American practices of cross-party alignments in the House, of ideo- 

22 Philip Williams, Politics in Post-War France (New York: Longmans, 
Green and Co., 1954), p. 310. (Emphasis mine.) This book contains an excel- 
lent discussion of the nature and effects of the French electoral systems. For 
a detailed description of the way in which the double ballot worked in the 
first elections of the Fifth Republic in 1958, see Philip Williams and Martin 
Harrison, "France 1958," in D. E. Butler, ed., Elections Abroad (New York: 
St. Martins, 1960), pp. 13-90. 

23 David Truman, The Congressional Party: A Case Study (New York: John 
Wiley, 1959); see also Duncan MacRae, Jr., Dimensions of Congressional Vot- 
ing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958); and V. O. Key, Jr., 
Politics) Parties and Pressure Groups (New York: Thos. Y. Crowell, 1958), 
p. 729. 

302 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

logical divergencies between local party machines, or the resolution by 
public primary elections of differences within the parties. Whenever a 
Canadian region, class, ethnic group, or province comes into serious con- 
flict with its party of traditional allegiance, it must either change over 
to the other party, with which it may be in even greater disagreement 
on other issues, or form a new "third" party. The result of combining 
this social diversity with a rigid constitutional structure has been the 
regular rise and fall of relatively powerful "third" parties. Every single 
Canadian province, except Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, 
has been governed for some time since World War I by a "third" party. 
At least three such parties, the Progressives in the 1920's and, since 1933, 
Social Credit (monetary reformers supported by fanners and small 
businessmen) and the socialist Cooperative Commonwealth Federation 
(CCF), renamed in 1961 the New Democratic Party, have had significant 
strength in a number of provinces. Nationalist parties, often at odds 
with one another, have arisen in Quebec; one of them, the Union 
NatioTiale, governed the province almost unbrokenly from 1936 to 1957. 
Most recently, in 1962, Social Credit, which was almost non-existent in 
Quebec in the 1958 election, won twenty-six constituencies in the national 
election in that province, and it retained most of this strength in the 
1963 election. The rise and fall of these parties, mainly at the provincial 
level, are not the result of any general discontent in Canada, but largely 
of the interaction between constitutional arrangements and social and 
economic divisions. 24 

Although the Canadian two-party system has repeatedly broken down, 
it has been able, especially on the national level, to reabsorb most of the 
rebellious elements, since the single-member plurality method of election 
necessarily represses minorities. At the provincial level, however, it has 
been much easier for them to survive by becoming one of the two major 
local parties. Unlike the situation in the United States, in which state and 
presidential elections are often on the same ballot, in Canada this never 
occurs. Hence, voters are not pressed to bring their national and pro- 
vincial party preferences into line. 

South Africa, which also combines British constitutional procedure with 

24 See S. M. Lipset, "Democracy in Alberta," Canadian Forum, 34 (1954), pp. 
175-177 and 196-198. For British Columbia, where Social Credit rose from no 
seats to the provincial government in one election, see H. F. Angus, "The 
British Columbia Election, 1952," Canadian Journal of Economics and Political 
Science, 18 (1952), pp. 518-525; and Margaret Ormsby, British Columbia: A 
History (Vancouver: Macmiflan, 1958), pp. 477-489. 

Party Sy sterns and the Representation of Social Groups 303 

complex internal bases of cleavage, has exhibited the same rapid rise and 
fall of minor parties as Canada. Within the limits of the dominant ethnic 
divisions, other sources of conflict still exist. Thus for long periods the 
Afrikaners were divided into two parties; today they are united in the 
National Party, but the English are split. In addition to the old but sharply 
declining Labour party, a number of parties, mainly English, have come 
into being in the last decade as splinters from the United Party. All these 
minor parties have met, in an aggravated form, the same difficulties as the 
Canadian. 25 

In New Zealand, the two non-socialist parties merged after Labour had 
risen to a position in which it seemed able to win a three-cornered fight. 
Social Credit has shown on at least two occasions that it could get the 
support of about 10 per cent of the New Zealand electorate, but, being 
unable to win seats, it has failed to sustain any permanent strength. 26 In 
Australia, the two major non-socialist parties the Country and Liberal 
parties have not merged, but generally follow a policy of exchanging 
seats and refraining from competition. 27 Similar electoral alliances took 
place in some of the Scandinavian countries before the introduction of 
proportional representation. 

Conversely, in one former dominion of the British Crown, Eire, which 

25 See Gwendolen M. Carter, The Politics of Inequality, South Africa Since 
1948 (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1958); for a further report see R. R. 
Farquharson, "South Africa 1958", in D. E. Butler, ed., Elections Abroad 
(New York: St. Martins, 1960), pp. 229-275. 

26 Peter Campbell, "Politicians, Public Servants, and the People in New Zea- 
land, I," Political Studies, 3 (1955), pp. 196-197. 

27 Although the Country and Liberal parties usually do not run against each 
other and act, in effect, electorally as the rural and urban wing of the non- 
socialist party, the continued existence of two such parties is facilitated by 
the fact that Australia has adopted the preferential ballot system with the 
single-member constituency. Under this system voters list the order of 
preference for all candidates on the ballot. Thus when there are Liberal and 
Country candidates in the same constituency, a Liberal voter will mark the 
Country candidate as his number two choice, and Country party supporters 
will do the same for the Liberals. This system has also encouraged occasional 
splits from the Labour Party, since minority party candidates can pick up 
first votes without these votes being permanently lost to the major party 
backed by such protest voters. The Democratic Labor Party, a right-wing 
split from Labour, has urged its followers to vote Liberal as thek second 
preference as a means of pressing the Labour Party to accept thek terms. 
See J. D. B. Miller, Australian Government and Politics (London: Duck- 
worth, 1954), pp. 85-86. 

304 'Democracy In Comparative Perspective 

has a relatively simple basis for political cleavage, the perpetuation of 
proportional representation ever since the birth of the Irish Republic in 
1922 has meant the continued existence of at least five parties. Only one 
party, Fianna Fail, has been able to govern without a coalition under these 
conditions. The second largest party, Fine Gael, which is somewhat more 
conservative, can hope to form a government only with the help of minor 
and often more leftist parties, such as Labour and the Republicans. 28 

Had Eire adopted the British election system, it would now no doubt 
have a stable two-party system and cabinets as responsible as the United 
Kingdom. This failure, like some other Irish difficulties, must be attrib- 
uted to the English, because when yielding power in southern Ireland, they 
insisted on a system of proportional representation to ensure representa- 
tion of Protestant and other more pro-Commonwealth minorities. Fianna 
Fail, as the dominant party, has tried hard to change the electoral system, 
but as in other countries the smaller parties oppose such changes for fear 
that the single-member plurality district system would weaken their 
electoral position. The result is that the need for "inter-party" govern- 
ments has led to periodic breakdowns in the traditional pattern of respon- 
sible cabinet government. 29 

Similarly, in Israel, another state once governed by Great Britain, in- 
dependence was followed by the continuance of the system of propor- 
tional representation previously used in elections to the council of the 
Jewish Agency, the dominant pre-independence organ of the Zionist com- 
munity. Hence, in this immigrant society formed by men from many 
states and cultures, over thirty different parties have taken part in the 
elections. There have been at least five different socialist parties, excluding 
the Communists, represented in the Knesset, and some half dozen religious 
parties. Basically, however, the Israeli political structure consists of three 
groups: the socialist parties, the largest of which, the Mapai, has about 40 
per cent of the vote, while the others have between 10 and 15 per cent; 
the non-socialist secular parties, which range from liberal to conservative 
(in the American sense of the terms), and which poll about 30 to 35 per 
cent of the vote; and the religious parties, which poll from 10 to 15 per 
cent and are divided fairly equally between pro- and anti-socialist groups. 
A single-member district plurality system would probably create a two- 
party system, socialist versus conservative, with each party bidding for the 

25 See Enid Lakeman and James D. Lambert, Voting in Democracies (London: 
Faber and Faber, 1955), pp. 223-230. 

29 Basil Chubb, "Cabinet Government in Ireland," Political Studies, 3 (1955), 
p. 272. 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 305 

support of the religious. This solution is favored by Mapai, the largest 
party in the country; but, as in Ireland, it is opposed by the others, since 
none of them feels certain of survival without proportional representation. 
An Israeli social research institute, in a study of the effects of electoral 
systems on national life, has strongly urged a change in the Israeli system. 

In sum: while the present system of proportional representation 
aggravates existing social evils in the Israeli society, i.e., absolute 
rule of central party machines, deepening social divisions and the 
perpetuation of factional fanaticism, the system of constituency 
election is designed to counteract and finally to eliminate them, by 
weakening party power at the centre, placing emphasis on common, 
integrative, cohesive elements in our society and encouraging the 
growth of tolerance, fellow-feeling and social compromise. . . . 

The condition for constructive democratic life in the country 
becomes largely a function of the development of social forces which 
can combat and counteract these negative features [toward in- 
tense destructive conflict]. And the web of social institutions is 
the most potent powerful instrument at our disposal to accomplish 
this end. 30 

Maurice Duverger has described the conscious and successful effort 
made in Belgium to prevent a two-party system reasserting itself when 
the Socialists rose to second place, displacing the anti-clerical Liberal 
opposition, after the adoption of universal manhood suffrage in 1893. By 
the next election in 1898, the Liberals had declined to parliamentary 
insignificance with only thirteen seats. Rather than see the Liberals 
disappear, which would have meant, eventually, a Socialist government, 
the Catholics, who were then in power, introduced proportional rep- 
resentation and thus preserved the Liberals as a major third party. 31 The 
anti-clerical vote has almost always been above 50 per cent, but the 
Socialists have never reached 40 per cent, while the Liberals have 
constantly secured between 10 and 15 per cent. 32 

The strain between the institutionalization of specific social cleavages 

30 Beth Hillel (Society for Social Research in Israel), Electoral Reform in 
Israel (Tel Aviv: Beth Hfflel Publications, 1953), pp. 24, 26. 

31 Duverger, Political Parties, pp. 246-247. 

32 Felix E. Oppenheim, "Belgium: Party Cleavage and Compromise," in 
Sigmund Neumann, ed., Modern Political Parties (Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1958), p. 167. 

306 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

in a multi-party structure and a plurality electoral system is aggravated 
by the distorted representation which usually results. The major party 
whose support is most evenly distributed throughout the country tends 
to be over-represented, and sometimes the largest single party does not 
win the most seats. In Canada between 1935 and 1957 the Liberal party 
dominated Parliament with overbearing majorities, though it had a 
majority of the electorate on only one occasion. 33 Similarly, in India the 
Congress Party has over 75 per cent of the seats in the House with less 
than 50 per cent of the vote, while the Communist Party ruled the 
Indian state of Kerala for one term with a legislative majority based 
on 35 per cent of the electorate. 34 In 1945, the British Labour Party took 
over with an overwhelming majority of 146 seats in the House of Com- 
mons, and nationalized a number of industries, despite the fact that over 
half of the electorate had voted for non-socialist candidates. Conversely, 
the three British Conservative governments since 1951 have governed 
with parliamentary majorities although the country had given a majority 
of its votes to Labour and the Liberals. 35 

Essentially, the evidence suggests that whatever potential cleavages 
exist in the social structure, there is a fundamental incompatibility be- 
tween a multi-party system and a plurality method of election; where the 
two co-exist, the instability is ultimately resolved by a change to one of 
the following situations: 1) a change in the electoral system to pro- 
portional representation, which preserves declining parties and facilitates 
the growth of new ones; 2) an arrangement by which different parties 
continue to exist, but support each other in more or less permanent 
alliances; 3) mergers between parties which re-create a two-party situa- 
tion, as has occurred a number of times with American third parties; or 
4) the elimination over time of the weaker parties and a return to a 
two-party system, as has occurred in various countries of the Com- 
monwealth and in the United States. 

33 Gwendolen M. Carter, "The Commonwealth Overseas: Variations on a 

British Theme," ibid., p. 104. 

84 Avery Leiserson, Parties and Politics (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1958), 

p. 286, 

35 Detailed discussion of the relation between votes and seats in the British 

system can be found in R. B, McCallum, The British General Election of 1945 

(New York: Oxford University Press, 1947), pp. 277-292; for a table giving 

votes and seats in British elections since 1900, see Samuel Beer, "Great Britain: 

From Governing Elite to Organized Mass Parties," in Sigmund Neumann, ed., 

Modern Political Parties (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 57. 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 307 

Consequences of the Different Systems 

A number of consequences for the nature of representation and the 
stability of democracy have been attributed to the two-party and the 
multi-party systems. 

In a two-party system, both parties aim at securing a majority. Hence, 
they must seek support among groups which may be preponderantly 
loyal to their opponents and must avoid accentuating too heavily the 
interests of their customary supporters. Elections become occasions for 
seeking the broadest possible base of support by convincing divergent 
groups of their common interests. The system thus encourages com- 
promise and the incorporation into party values of those general elements 
of consensus upon which the polity rests. For similar reasons the system 
encourages emphasis by both parties upon material interests (concessions 
and patronage) as against a stress upon ideal interests, thus reducing 
ideological conflict. 36 The "out" party can always realistically aspire to 
gain office within a few years, and this has the effect of stifling exag- 
gerated commitments on its part to ideal or ideological goals which may 
gain votes but embarrass office holders, and it also reinforces the 
adherence of the opposition to the "rules of the game." The weakness 
of ideology that is inherent in two-party systems has the further con- 
sequences of reducing intense concern with particular issues dividing 
the parties, and sharpening the focus on party leaders. The plebiscitary 
nature of electoral struggles in two-party systems is largely an effect of 
the system itself. 

In a multi-party system, where parties do not hope to gain a majority, 
they usually seek to win the greatest possible electoral support from a 
limited base. They therefore stress the interests of that base and the 
cleavages which set it apart from other groups in society. The party's 
function as a representative of a group is separated from the function of 
integrating the group in the body politic, which requires a stress on 
similarities with others and commitments to them. 37 The multi-party 
system with proportional representation in fact substitutes the interest 
group (or group of common believers) for the territorial unit as the 

36 See Carl Friedrich, Constitutional Government and Democracy (Boston: 
Ginn and Co., 1950), pp. 416-417; Parsons, "Voting and the Equilibrium of 
the American Political System," op. cit. 

37 See F. A. Hermens, The Representative Republic (Notre Dame, Ind.; Uni- 
versity of Notre Dame Press, 1958), p. 201. 

308 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

basis of representation. 38 The small size of many parties and the absence 
of a need in most multi-party systems for compromise at the electoral 
level enhances the ideological content of the conflict. This divisiveness 
encouraged by a multi-party system is perpetuated by the tendency of 
most parties to attack most virulently those with whom they have most 
in common and with whom they thus compete for a similar vote; this 
magnifies the differences between them. 

The two-party system helps to maintain the commitment of the entire 
electorate to the system itself, rather than to the regime, and encourages 
the elector to devote his efforts to the quite clear-cut task of replacing 
the incumbents with their traditional opponents. The necessity for coali- 
tion government in most multi-party systems where the lesser parties 
wield so disproportionate an influence that election results may scarcely 
affect the composition of the government deprives the elector of the 
feeling that he is able to turn out leaders who have forfeited his con- 
fidence, and weakens his commitment to the system as a whole. 

There are, however, conditions under which a two-party system is 
less conducive to the preservation of democratic order than is a multi- 
party system. The two-party system works best where it is based on an 
elaborate, cross-cutting solidarity structure, in which men and groups are 
pulled in different directions only by their diverse roles and interests. 
Wherever the solidarity structure is polarized by class, race, or religion, 
and the political lines follow those of social cleavage, a two-party system 
may intensify internal conflict rather than help to integrate the society. 
For example, the first Austrian republic (1919-1934) was largely a two- 
party system, but one which was divided along the interrelated lines of 
religion, class, and region. The parties represented two almost completely 
separate cultural units, and the civil war which followed was a nearly 
inevitable consequence of the system. 39 Similarly, in Italy today the lines 

38 "Electoral procedures based on territorial ... [as distinct from 'representa- 
tion through interest-groups'] is [sic"] precisely the technique for the organic 
integration of the whole. As a matter of principle the individual delegate repre- 
sents the entire area. The ensuing separation into parties according to political 
tendencies implies then only differences of belief concerning the means by 
which the welfare of the nation is to be achieved." Georg Simmel, The Web 
of Group Affiliation (Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press, 1955), p. 194. 

39 For a detailed description of the system and an analysis of the events lead- 
ing to the downfall of the first Austrian republic, see Charles Gulick, Austria: 
from Hapsburg to Hitler (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 
1948). A recent study of elections in the first and second republics demon- 
strates that the second one is genuinely different from the first in that the 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 309 

of division between the Christian Democrats and the Communist op- 
position are such as to reduce consensus rather than increase it. In South 
Africa, a division into two parties largely based on two ethnic groups, 
the Afrikaner Nationalists and English United Party, is destructive of 
national unity and democratic norms. 40 

In general, where the class struggle is superimposed upon a conflict 
between religion and irreligion, or between different ethnic groups 
wherever opposing groups see elections as a fight between good and evil, 
so that conversion from one political faith to another is almost impos- 
sible a two-party system is more destructive of political stability than is 
one which center parties can mediate between extreme opponents. Con- 
sequently, though it may be validly argued that a two-party system makes 
for a more stable and effective democratic polity than a multi-party one, 
this is true only if both actors in the system accord a certain degree of 
legitimacy to each other; each party must be willing to view the other 
as an acceptable alternative government. 

Considerations such as these have led many to suggest that a system of 
proportional representation, though making for more parties, may help 
to unify a nation of low consensus by forcing all parties to look for votes 
in every major group and region in the country. A committee of the 
United States Senate urged this view as early as 1869, arguing that the 
Civil War might have been avoided if the electoral system had permitted 
minorities in the North and South who agreed with dominant opinion in 
the other regions to elect representatives. The committee argued that the 
absence of minority representation "in the states of the South when 
rebellion was plotted, and when open steps were taken to break the 
Union, was unfortunate, for it would have held the Union men of these 

two major parties, though based on the same groups as before 1934, have 
much more support today within "opposition strata" than their predecessors 
did. Thus the conservative People's party is much stronger today among 
workers, residents of Vienna, Protestants, and irreligious people, than was 
the pre-1934 Christian Social party. Conversely, the Socialists, though weaker 
in Vienna, are much stronger in die outlying provinces than earlier, and they 
have considerably increased their vote among peasants. Paralleling the growth 
of the two parties within segments once overwhelmingly opposed to them has 
been a sharp decline in ideological cleavage. The conservative party is no 
longer a Christian or Catholic party, and the Socialists have dropped their 
adherence to Marxist doctrine. See Walter B. Simon, "Politische Ethik und 
Politische Struktur," Kolner Zeitschrift fur Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 
11 (1959), pp. 445-459. 
40 Carter, op. en. 

310 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

states together and have given them a voice. . . . Dispersed, unorganized, 
unrepresented, without due voice and power, they could interpose no 
effectual resistance to secession and to civil war." 41 John Humphreys sug- 
gested that the same system of proportional representation, which is some- 
times thought to have prevented stable two-party government in Belgium, 
has actually reduced the conflict between the Flemish and Walloon 
groups. Since all parties seek votes in both ethnic groups, the South 
African pattern of parties representing distinct ethnic and language groups 
is avoided. 42 

The Swedish political scientist Herbert Tingsten has suggested, from 
the experience of his own country, that a multi-party system rooted in 
proportional representation lowers the vitality of political life by eliminat- 
ing the slightly spurious dramatics which two-party elections can call 
forth even among rather homogeneous and satisfied electorates. 43 This is 
not incompatible with the supposed tendency of the multi-party system 
to increase the purely numerical participation of the electorate. Thus, 
when Switzerland changed in 1919 from a plurality system of elections 
to proportional representation within cantons, not only did the number 
of significant parties increase, but the average percentage of the eligible 
electorate who voted jumped from 50 per cent to nearly 80 per cent. 
The Swiss changeover was extremely revealing, as there were a number 
of variations among the cantons which permitted some controlled com- 
parisons. For example, in those cantons which had previously been "safe 
seats" for one party under the plurality system, only 30 to 40 per cent 
of the eligible electorate had voted before proportional representation. 
The vote in these previously "safe" cantons doubled after the change in 
the system. However, in comparable safe cantons which elected only one 
member to the national parliament, so that proportional representation 
could not alter the result, participation did not increase and remained at 
about 40 per cent. A somewhat similar situation occurred with comparable 

41 Cited in John H. Humphreys, Proportional Representation, A Study in 
Methods of Election (London: Methuen, 1911), p. 58. 

42 Ibid., p. 57. A similar point is made by Maurice Duverger in Uinfluence 
des systemes electoraux sur la vie politique (Paris: Armand Colin, 1950), 
pp. 39-40; see also Lakeman and Lambert, Voting in Democracies, pp. 63-64. 
The latter contend also that "an instance of the unifying effect of proportional 
representation is Czechoslovakia after the first world war, where representation 
of their respective minorities prevented what might have been a sharp cleavage 
between Bohemia and Slovakia." Loc cit. 

43 Herbert Tingsten, "Stability and Vitality in Swedish Democracy," The 
Political Quarterly, 26 (1955), pp. 140-151. 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 311 

results in Norway in 192 1. 44 A situation in which every vote "counts" 
seems to increase both the concern of the voter with the need to partici- 
pate and the concern of the parties with the reactions of all voters. 

The differences between the two types of party system must be tested 
also for their capacity to provide generalized leadership in return for 
generalized support, to serve as the interchange mechanism between the 
solidary groups of society and the wielders of political power. The experi- 
ences of Western industrial society suggest that, in general, a two-party 
system is much the better adapted to these needs. 

The ability of the two-party system to provide for generalized leader- 
ship is closely linked to the fact that one party always represents the 
government and actually rules the country, so that the party in power 
temporarily becomes identical with the State. Both parties are organized 
to be able to take full responsibility, at home and abroad, for the conduct 
of the nation's affairs; the opposition is always conscious of its role as the 
government of tomorrow, and in order to be able to govern it must look 
beyond electoral victory to its chance of inspiring at least some confidence 
among the supporters of the other party. Insofar as the party itself 
overtly represents interests, these are represented within the party and 
disciplined by the necessity of being able to govern in the national 
interest; the same applies to the party's relationship with pressure groups. 
A party, in these circumstances, is above all a way of organizing citizens 
to take part in public affairs. It is clearly damaging to a party, especially 
to the party in power, if it appears in a light where its opponents can 
accuse it of obvious favoritism to a group of party supporters. Further, 
since the legitimacy of a party rests ultimately upon its actual or potential 
effectiveness as a national government, there is strong pressure on both 
parties in a two-party system to reduce or eliminate ideology as a basis for 
political decision. The access of a given party to the full power of the 
state is quite straightforward so long as almost everyone is convinced that 
it will use that power to solve problems from a national standpoint. 

In contrast to the two-party system, where each party tries to appear 
as a plausible representative of the whole society, multi-party systems 
have been mainly based upon the premise that a party should consciously 
represent the private interests of a section of the population. Only the 
State, and no one party, can claim to represent the interests of the whole. 
Thus individuals are citizens, and enjoy public roles, in relation only 
to the State, not to the party; and patriotism tends to be found only in 

44 Herbert Tingsten, Political Behaviour (London: P. S. King, 1937), pp. 
219-220, 224-225. 

312 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

action which "transcends" party, rather than as a value which can infuse 
party action as such. As a result, bourgeois and peasant parties have tended 
to reflect rather than sublimate the incivisme of their constituents. Minor- 
ity working-class parties have often regarded constitutionalism the basis 
of any notion of public interest as a matter of socially irrelevant techni- 
calities, and parties of the right have been tempted to aspire to a position 
"above parties." 

But while almost all minority parties in a multi-party system could 
ideologically reject responsibility for the political community at large, 
many have in fact found themselves wielding State power in coalition 
governments. The consequent divorce between party symbols and party 
actions for all who participate in coalitions, and the bargaining necessary 
to 1511 public offices and obtain parliamentary support, may lead to 
cynicism or to attitudes resembling that unmediated attachment to abstrac- 
tions which, as Philip Selznick argues, is a source of irresponsibility, 
extremism, and manipulability in mass society. 45 These extreme mani- 
festations have, of course, appeared in some multi-party systems only 
under conditions of stress. It seems likely, however, that multi-party 
systems accentuate the development of such dangerous traits, while two- 
party systems are better able to resist political and civic irresponsibility 
on the part of different solidary groups and their representatives. 

While the two-party system has these great advantages, under certain 
conditions a multi-party system may produce a relatively permanent 
coalition cabinet which adequately reflects the main groupings of 
society and can effectively interchange leadership and support. In such 
systems all parties become, in a sense, "State parties." This development 
seems to have occurred in Switzerland and, to a lesser degree, in Austria, 
Uruguay, Benelux, and the Scandinavian countries. There is some reason 
to anticipate that the Swiss "solution" to the problem of multi-party 
government the inclusion of all democratic parties in the cabinet, so that 
issues are fought out there as well as in the parliament may spread to 
other countries as well. 


Political sociologists tend to regard formal political devices as peripheral 
items, having little effect upon the main features of societies. One purpose 
of this chapter has been to distinguish between the more "natural" 

45 Philip Selznick, The Organizational Weapon (New York: McGraw-Hill, 
1952), pp. 276-291. 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 313 

elements in the social structure, derivative from the value system discussed 
in the earlier parts of this book, which influence the political process and 
the enacted rules which help determine the nature of parties and of rep- 
resentation. As we have seen in the American example, constitutions and 
electoral systems are the outcome of particular decisions which may 
permanently affect the type of social system which a country develops. 
It is especially important to emphasize this at a time when men in various"" 
new nations are trying to set up democratic procedures and to foster an 
open society. For sociologists to treat formal political structures as 
epiphenomena is not only wrong from a theoretical point of view, but 
may also reinforce the appeal of a vulgar Marxism which would have 
democracy wait solely upon economic development. 

On the other side, it is fairly obvious that a simple change in electoral 
laws cannot guarantee the transformation of a multi-party system into 
a two-party one. In unstable multi-party countries, the alternative to 
numerous, rather rigid parties has been the rassemblement (rally) type 
of organization, which, while possessing a loose structure, has also just 
those authoritarian traits which its purpose demands. Movements of 
this type arise because parliamentary democracy has failed to produce 
effective leadership, and since their purpose is to establish a new source 
of authority in their leader's charisma, they are often opposed to democ- 
racy itself. 

This brings us back to a consideration of the problem of authority in 
relation to party systems. Democratic stability, as I noted in the Intro- 
duction, requires that the source of authority be out of reach of any of 
the .contending. parties, which should aspire to become the agents of 
authority, not its creators? In all stable democracies we do in fact find 
an insritutJQnalized separation of the source from the agencies of au- 
. thority. In the stable parliamentary monarchies~~of "Northern Europe 
and die Commonwealth, the monarchy remains the latent source of 
authority, effectively divorced from its exercise. 46 In the United States 
and Switzerland, since their systems acquired a traditional legitimacy 

46 See Lipset, Political Man, pp. 77-96. As Walter Bagehot put it almost a 
century ago: "The functions of royalty are for the most part latent. It seems 
to order, but it never seems to struggle. . . . The nation is divided into parties, 
but the crown is of no party. Its apparent separation from business is that 
which removes it both from enmities and from desecration, which preserves 
its mystery, which enables it to combine the affection of conflicting parties 
to a visible symbol of unity." The English Constitution (New York: Oxford 
University Press, 1958), p. 40. Bagehot's use of the distinction between mani- 
fest and latent activities and functions is, I think, one of the first uses of these 
concepts in social science. 

314 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

through prolonged effectiveness, it was the constitution that became the 
supreme symbol of authority. And in contrast to France and many other 
countries, the American and Swiss constitutions are beyond the direct 
reach of the elected representatives and are not easily amended. It is 
unthinkable that they can be abolished or fundamentally revised. 

Two-party democracy, therefore, in addition to an electoral system 
which tends to polarize the electorate, requires that: 1) the groups 
composing the two potentially dominant parties not be committed to 
incompatible ideologies; and 2) the source and agents of authority be 
institutionally and legitimately separated, so that neither major party 
can aspire to become the source of authority. 

It would therefore appear that those countries with multi-party systems, 
in which the possibility of change to a two-party system exists, are in 
fact those which already have fairly efficient ways of exchanging leader- 
ship and support. In none of the chronically unstable democracies are the 
source and agencies of authority sufficiently separate to insure against 
a sudden authoritarian turn. 

But although too great a faith in the manipulation of electoral laws 
cannot be justified, some conclusions for action may be drawn: to create 
democracy it may be necessary to use the legal system to exclude those 
who would destroy it Thus the French double ballot, in which the 
democratic parties could unite for the second ballot against an opponent 
of the system, limited both the participation and the strength of the 
Communists and Fascists in the 1930's. 47 Such a system in Weimar 
Germany would obviously have kept the Nazis out of the Reichstag in 
the 1920's and reduced the parliamentary strength of the Communists to 
insignificance. It would have guaranteed a large democratic majority in 
the election of 1930, and even in 1932. 48 

The question is most urgent in the new states of Africa and Asia. 
There, tie source and agencies of authority are not separated. In none 
of these countries do the underlying structural conditions exist for a 
stable democratic party system, either two-party or multi-party. 49 Lack 

47 Michel Debre, the first prime minister of the Fifth Republic, argued in 
1947 that the Fourth Republic would inevitably collapse because it used pro- 
portional representation. See his La mort de Vetat republicain (Paris: Galli- 
mard, 1947). 

48 Dankwart Rustow, "Some Observations on Proportional Representation," 
The Journal of Politics, 12 (1950), pp. 107-127. 

49 For a general theoretical discussion of how to deal with these problems 
comparatively, see Francis X. Sutton, "Representation and the Nature of 
Political Systems," Contemporary Studies in Society and History, 2 (1959), 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 315 

of experience and leadership, illiteracy, poverty, traditional cultures and 
status structures, dependence upon primary products which often pro- 
vide insufficient resources for expensive government all militate against 
parliamentary rule. These strains are frequently intensified by the lack of 
any sense of historical unity, and by the conjunction of all the tensions 
of rapid industrialization with the opportunities for demagogic license 
afforded by universal suffrage. A further major factor is the differential 
impact of Communism, Russian or Chinese, upon these emerging polities. 
Whether it appears as an imperialistic threat, as a tempting solution to 
urgent and overwhelming problems, or as a source of irresponsible 
exploitation of discontent, it adds to the already formidable obstacles to 
peaceful democratic growth. Under these conditions, the form of one- 
party "democratic" government which is emerging in many of these 
countries may hold some hope for the future. Such parties tend to be 
loosely structured, more like a rassemblement than a party of ideology or 
interest. They combine a number of interests and strata, either through" 
the charisma of the leader or through the original need for unity in the 
struggle for independence. Charisma, as has been noted, is necessary if the 
system is to survive in its early stages, and the absence of opposition may 
prove beneficial if it preserves the often frail mystique upon which au- 
thority depends. Such opposition as does exist must remain factional, even 
where it has a nominal right of appeal to the electorate. Other parties may 
be permitted, as in Ghana, Tunisia, and Mexico (the model in this pattern 
for other underdeveloped societies), but they cannot be allowed a chance 
of electoral victory. Any failure in effectiveness and there are bound 
to be many may become grounds for challenging the entire system if an 
opposition can hope to gain mass support and power. 

Ever since the rise of Sun Yat-sen in China, many leaders of such 
states have spoken of their particular type of government as a "guided" 
or a "tutelary" democracy. Unlike Communists or other totalitarians, 
these leaders have as their point of reference, and their image of the good 
society, not a one-party state or a society without internal conflict, but 
rather the existing stable Western democracies. They regard the existence 
of opposition, free elections, and public criticism as ideals to be attained. 
Turkey, for example, has already developed from a one-party into a two- 
party state, and Mexico seems to be moving gradually in the same 

pp. 1-10. For a detailed description of the party systems and elections in 
various African states, see W. J. M. Mackenzie and K. E. Robinson, eds., 
Five Elections in Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960). 

316 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

direction. 50 The dominant parties in both states have tolerated much 
internal diversity, and acknowledged their opponents' rights to discussion 
and organization while at the same time denying them a chance of 
electoral victory. 

Democracy cannot be created by fiat. It grew through many centuries 
in the West, during which time the concept of representation changed 
greatly, and the norms regulating the access of different groups to govern- 
mental power were slowly modified in the course of great social and 
political upheavals. As Max Weber pointed out, democracy must be 
regarded as a process rather than as an attribute which a system does or 
does not possess. In his view, democratization involves two traits: 1) 
"prevention of the development of a closed status group of officials in 
the interest of a universal accessibility of office, and 2) minimization of 
the authority of officialdom in the interest of expanding the sphere of 
influence of 'public opinion' as far as practicable." 51 

In Western societies the absolute power and charismatic authority of 
the monarch were gradually eroded, mainly through pressure from groups 
who were consciously loyal to the monarchy. The title of His Majesty's 
Loyal Opposition echoes this development. Similarly, in some of the 
dominant charismatic parties of the underdeveloped states, the growth 
of politically significant solidary groups and of restrictions on the author- 
ity of officials has been taking place 'within the ruling party, much as in 
an earlier age it took place under the shadow of the monarchy. In 
Mexico, to take the most developed case of this phenomenon, these 
groups have been brought into the Partido, often as formally affiliated 
groupings for example, trade unions and professional associations. As 
was true in the monarchies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, 
which were in transition from absolutism to constitutionalism, consider- 
able factionalism exists in many of these parties, which gives the different 
groups within them access to power. "Insofar as factions develop freely 
inside a single party this becomes simply a framework which limits" 
political rivalries without destroying them; prohibited outside the single 

50 See Duverger, Political Parties, pp. 275-280; Robert E. Scott, Mexican 
Government in Transition (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1959), espe- 
cially pp. 145-243; and Kemal H. Karpat, Turkey's Politics: The Transition 
to a Multi-Party System (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1959). 

51 H. H. Gerth and C. W. Mills, eds., From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology 
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), p. 226. These concepts are 
elaborated in an unpublished seminar paper by Patricia Richmond, "Democ- 
racy and Party: The Problem of Political Stability in the Mexican 'One-Party' 
System," which has influenced my thinking on these issues. 

Party Systems and the Representation of Social Groups 317 

party, pluralism is reborn within the party, and there it can play the 
same part." 52 An analysis of the political changes in Mexico over the past 
three decades concludes: 

Intra-party pluralism has produced the following stabilizing conse- 
quences in present-day industrial Mexico . . . : an increase in the 
organizational strength of significant secondary groupings; an in- 
crease in the legitimacy of the system and of the incumbents; an 
increase in the representation of all the significant segments in society 
with a corresponding decrease in the arbitrary power of the presi- 
dent as well as an increase in his resourcefulness; and an increase in 
the legitimacy and tolerance of opposition groups. 53 

To justify the manipulation of political systems so as to limit the 
rights of opposition in underdeveloped states, or to deny the rights of 
anti-democratic forces to equal representation, may seem itself to be a 
basic denial of democracy. But as the Founding Fathers of the American 
Republic well recognized, the problem of democracy is not simply to 
maximize popular influence on government policy; it also involves find- 
ing the best way to protect the stability of the political systemt^fhey 
sought to safeguard the infant republic by framing a constitution which 
would favorably "prejudice the outcome of democracy," and which 
would reduce "the likelihood that the majority would decide certain 
political issues in bad ways." 54 

Wherever democracy has not been institutionalized, whether in the 
old states of Europe or the new states of Asia and Africa, it is important 
to recognize that particukjupolitical foams, will not_emege automatically 
in response to dey.dQpnients in other parts of the sociaLaystem. 55 Whether 
these states develop a stable interchange of leadership and support in a 
democratic framework also depends in part on the rules they adopt for 
their polities. The study of the social effects of diverse constitutional 
arrangements should remain a major concern for the student of politics 
and comparative institutions. 

62 Duverger, Political Parties, p. 278. 

53 Patricia Richmond, "Democracy and Party," p. 29. 

54 Martin Diamond, "Democracy and The Federalist: A Reconsideration of 
the Framers* Intent," American Political Science Review, 53 (1959), pp. 56-57. 

55 For a detailed analysis of the factors which influence political forms in 
these societies, see Edward Shils, Political Development in the New States 
(The Hague: Mouton, 1962); see also S. N. Eisenstadt, "Sociological Aspects 
of Political Development in New States," in his Essays on Sociological Aspects 
of Political and Economic Development (The Hague: Mouton, 1961), pp. 

Epilogue: Some Personal 
Views on Equality, 
Inequality, and Compara- 
tive Social Science 


This book has had two major purposes, a substantive one and a 
methodological one. The second purpose is discussed later in this chapter. 
Substantively, it has sought to present a perspective on American 
society, first, by looking at it historically and, second, by showing how 
it differs from other modern Western States. Essentially, I have argued 
that the American Creed, with its emphasis on equality and opportunity, 
is still a dynamic part of the culture. The concern for equality still de- 
termines how Americans interact with each other. The "other-directed- 
ness" of Americans, the flattery, the use of first names among people who 
hardly know each other or are in a superior-subordinate relation, the 
elaborate efforts to avoid hurting the feelings of others, all reflect the 
fact that deeply rooted in our values is the mandate that all men should 
respect one another. 

The accounts of visitors from abroad continue to support the conten- 
tion that the two emphases, on equality (respect for others) and achieve- 
ment (competition), are clearly linked together in the United States. 
Recently, some Canadian academic friends who spent a year in Cali- 
fornia told me how impressed they were with the effect of one year 
in an American junior high school on the outiook of their eleven- 

Epilogue 319 

year-old daughter. The girl, who did extremely well in school, had 
looked down on her less able schoolmates back home in Vancouver. In 
California, according to my friends, she developed much more respect 
for her classmates, regardless of intellectual achievement. Her parents 
felt this new respect taught her by the American school did not lead 
to a reduction in her intellectual interests or her concern for knowledge. 
Rather, both strands were present in the American school the need to 
do well, and the need to respect others with lesser ability. 

Similar impressions were reported by a South African writer, Dan 
Jacobson, now a resident of Britain, who lived for a year in an American 
surburban community. 1 He was particularly struck with the extent to 
which the elementary school system tried to foster a concern for the 
feelings of others. Thus, he reports that his seven-year-old daughter came 
home one day with the request that she bring twenty-three valentines to 
school for St. Valentine's Day. Her teacher wanted each child in the 
class to receive the same number of cards. She was concerned that no 
child should feel deprived or that he was not liked. 

The comments of two European Marxists, one a pro-Soviet fellow 
traveler and the other a Polish sociologist and member of the Communist 
party, are also relevant here. The first, an Englishwoman whom I saw in 
Britain shortly after her return from six months in the United States, 
reported that a visit to America always brings home to her the class- 
differentiated character of British society. In America a well-educated 
member of the upper middle class will discuss politics or other such topics 
with a cab driver, a hairdresser, and others at that occupational level; 
but in Britain, a person from the upper middle class still finds it difficult 
to interact informally with people that far below him in the social scale. 
When viewed in comparison with America, Britain even in the 1960's 
remains a rigidly stratified society. 

The Polish Communist's comments were perhaps even more note- 
worthy. He knows English extremely well and had written about some 
aspects of American society before his first visit here. I saw him in 
Warsaw after he had spent a year in America, and he remarked that 
much to his surprise he had felt much more at home, more at ease in 
social relations, in the South than in other parts of the United States. 
This reaction naturally puzzled him, since he was bitterly hostile to the 
pattern of race relations in southern life and thought he disliked every- 
thing the South stood for. On thinking the matter through, he realized 

1 Dan Jacobson, No Further West: California Visited (New York: Macmillan, 

320 Democracy In Comparative Perspective 

that the reason for his apparently contradictory feelings was that inter- 
personal relations in the South race relations apart were more like 
those of Europe, including Communist Poland, than those of the northern 
states, The fact that the South is a caste society not only defines Negro- 
white relations but also affects the pattern of life within white society 
as well. Thus this Polish sociologist reported that there is much less 
informality between superiors and inferiors among southern whites than 
among northern ones. Southern white children show more respect to 
adults than do those in the North, there is more formality in relations 
between the sexes in the South than in the North, and persons in higher 
status occupations are shown more deference in the South than in the 
North. The American South, in other words, places more emphasis on 
elitism, on ascription, on particularism, and on diffuseness, than does the 
North, and this makes the South more like Europe than are other parts 
of the United States. 

In much of Europe, for example, diffuse elitism requires that subordi- 
nates address superiors with the impersonal form of "you" (Sie in 
German and vous in French), while one of higher status will address one 
of lower, such as an employee or a servant, with the more personal 
form, which is also the form used in speaking to children (Du in German 
and tu in French). In the American South, a similar pattern is followed. 
Although English has only one form of "you," whites address Negroes by 
their first names, that is, familiarly, as if speaking to a child, while a 
Negro must always call a white man "Mister." And a study of Soviet 
literature indicates that this indicator of the existence of diffuse superior 
status continues in Communist Russia. Alexander Gerschenkron finds "in 
Kruzilikha and elsewhere in Soviet fiction that the manager, in addressing 
subordinates, uses the time-consecrated feudal ty (thou), while the 
subordinates use the respectful vy (you)." 2 Given the continuation of 
pre-revolutionary forms of interpersonal relationships after many decades 
of Communism in Russia it is not surprising that even a committed 
Polish Communist should find that the more ascriptive and elitist South 
is more like his homeland, in terms of social relations, than is the more 
equalitarian area of the United States. 

Because equality and achievement have been linked throughout 
America's development as a nation, the concept of equality has had a 
special character. As David Potter has stressed, "the American ideal and 
practice of equality ... has implied for the individual . . . opportunity 

2 Alexander Gerschenkron, "Economic Life in Soviet Literature," in Alex 
Inkeles and Kent Geiger, eds., Soviet Society (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 
1961), p. 401. 

Epilogue 321 

to make his own place in society and . . . emancipation from a system 
of status." 3 It must be emphasized that the American concept of equality, 
which focuses on opportunity and the quality of social relations, does 
not demand equality of income. This fact, as Potter has well pointed 
out, has been one of the sources of confusion concerning the very use 
of the term "equality" to describe aspects of the American reality. 

[T]he connotations [of the term "equality"] to an American are 
quite unlike what they might be to a European. A European advocat- 
ing equality might very well mean that all men should occupy posi- 
tions that are roughly the same level in wealth, power, or enviability. 
But the American, with his emphasis upon equality of opportunity, 
has never conceived of it in this sense. He has traditionally expected 
to find a gamut ranging from rags to riches, from tramps to mil- 
lionaires. . . . Thus equality did not mean uniform position on a 
common level, but it did mean universal opportunity to move 
through a scale which traversed many levels. . . . The emphasis upon 
unrestricted latitude as the essence of equality in turn involved a 
heavy emphasis upon liberty as an essential means for keeping the 
scale open and hence making equality a reality as well as a theoreti- 
cal condition. ... As for social distinctions, certainly they exist; but 
whatever their power may be, social rank can seldom assert an 
open claim to deference in this country, and it usually makes at 
least a pretense of conformity to equalitarian ways. 4 

The focus on the ideology of equal opportunity for each individual 
has made Americans relatively insensitive to gross inequalities of income 
and wealth in their country. If the stress on equality serves to moderate 
relations among those who are unequal in class position, it may be argued 
that this very emphasis, which leads Americans to speak of their country 
as a "classless society," may serve to inhibit efforts to reduce inequality in 
the economic system through political and other means. 

Inequality in America 

The United States, like all other nations, has an enormous concentration 
of personal wealth in the hands of relatively few individuals. The most 
recent detailed investigation of the subject, which is based on estate tax 
records, estimates that the group of persons who ". . . have had $60,000 

3 David M. Potter, People of Plenty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 
1954), p. 91. 

4 Ibid., pp. 91-92, 96. 

322 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

Table VIII 

Distribution of Total Family Personal Income Among Consumer 
Units Grouped by Size of Income Per Unit, Selected Years, 1929- 
1959, After Deduction of Federal Income Tax Liability 
Income Groups as 

Fifths of the Population 






Lowest and next 
lowest fifth 
Top fifth 

Per Cent 






Top 5 per cent 






Average after-tax income 
per unit (1960 prices) 






Source: Simon Kwsnets^ "Income "Distribution and Changes in Consumption," in 
H. S. Simpson, ed^ The Changing American Population (New York: Institute 
for Life Insurance, 1961) , p. 30. 

or more of gross estate in 1953 comprised 1.04 per cent of the total popu- 
lation, and 1.6 per cent of the adult population. This group of top wealth- 
holders held over a quarter of the total personal wealth. . . ." 5 This finding 
is substantiated by the 1953 Survey of Consumer Finances, which dealt 
with net worth; it reported that those with $60,000 or more constituted 
3 per cent of all spending units, and that they held 30 per cent of total 
assets. 6 Efforts to estimate changes in the pattern of inequality in personal 
wealth indicate that between 1922 and 1929 the top one per cent of the 
population, in terms of wealth, increased their share from 33.9 to 38.8 
per cent However, this share dropped considerably during the 1930's 
and 1940's; it fell to 33.8 per cent in 1939 and 22.8 per cent in 1949. 
Between 1949 and 1953, the last year reported in this analysis, the top 
one per cent gained somewhat, owning 27.4 per cent of all personal assets, 
but was still considerably below 1929. 7 

Simon Kuznets finds that the proportion of the wealth going to the 
bottom section of the population has increased since 1929, while the 
upper groups' portion (the top fifth and top 5 per cent) dropped con- 

5 Robert J. Lampman, The Share of Top Wealth-Holders in National Wealth 
1922-1956 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1962), p. 191, 
//>#., p. 195. 7 F 

7 1 bid., p. 209. 

Epilogue 323 

siderably during the 1930's and 1940's. Table VTII shows the distribution 
of income from selected years after 1929. Most recently, a comparison 
of data from the various censuses, including that of 1960, suggests similar 
conclusions. Herman Miller of the Census Bureau concludes that, since 
the end of the war, income distribution "has not changed significantly." 8 

The data reported by Lampman, Kuznets, and Miller suggest that the 
tendency to reduce the relative disproportion in income between the 
higher and lower groups which characterized the 1930's and 1940's has 
ended, and may even be moving slightly in the reverse direction. Given 
the widespread opportunities to increase family income available to the 
growing middle-class and white-collar strata, there has been a general 
reluctance to press for an extension of an egalitarian-oriented progressive 
taxation policy, such as that fostered during the Roosevelt depression 
and wartime era. In fact, changes in tax legislation have served to reduce 
the severity of taxes. "Most noteworthy among the latter changes was 
the introduction of the marital deduction on the estate tax, and the 
extension to residents of all states of community property rights for both 
federal income and gift tax purposes in 1948." 9 This change in national 
mood with regard to tax policy probably reflects one of the fluctuations 
in relative emphasis on the values of equalitarianism and achievement 
discussed in Chapter 3. In a period of high levels of employment and 
economic opportunity, the concern for achievement, for incentives, 
becomes greater than that for equality. 

It is far from certain, however, that the egalitarian trend with respect 
to income is disappearing. The largest "occupational" group among the 
lowest fifth in income is made up of those without regular employment, 
the large majority of whom are retired. And this tendency for the 
retired to form an increasingly larger segment of the low-income group 
may serve to conceal a continued move toward equality of income among 
those in the labor force. As Kuznets puts it: 

This trend towards the domination of the lowest group of consumer 
units by retired family heads reflects the spread of social insurance 
and the "splitting up" of consumer units, the separation of genera- 
tions [parents and children living apart after the latter go to work]. 
. . . Splitting up would, all other conditions being equal, widen the 
inequality in the distribution of income among consumer units as 

8 Herman Miller, "Is the Income Gap Closed? TSTo!'" The New York Times 
Magazine, (November 11, 1962), p. 50. 

9 Lampman, The Share of Top Wealth-Holders . . . , p. 239. 

324 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

measured; for it would create an increasingly large group of units at 
the lower end of the distribution, whose needs are relatively modest, 
and whose drive toward or capacity for substantial earnings is 

If reaching retirement age means passing the optimum earning 
phase of one's life and declining into a position below the average 
not unlike that held in the early stages of life, i.e., before the 
acquisition of experience and maturity, the separation of aged heads 
from the younger consumer units only lengthens the lower tail of 
the income distribution and makes for greater measured inequality 
than would be the case if retired folks continued to live with their 
children in one consuming unit. Inequality would also be intensified 
if splitting up of the very young into separate consumer units in- 
creased, since their income also would be much below the average. 
. . . The point to be stressed is that in so far as splitting up began in 
the 1930's and continued thereafter, inequality in the distribution of 
income among consumer units declined until 1947 and was constant 
thereafter despite the underlying trend in the structure of consum- 
ing units. In other words, even in the 1950's there may have been 
forces making for narrower income inequality, but their effects may 
have been offset by the greater fractionalization of consuming units 
at both ends of the age distribution of heads, i.e., the very old and 
the very young, and at one end of the income distribution, i.e., the 
low one. 10 

But whatever the inequality in personal wealth and income in the 
United States, it remains true that in spite of the activities of the 1945- 
1951 Labour government, Britain is not only less egalitarian in its value 
system but also evidences greater disparities in distribution of wealth. 
"In 1945-47 the top 1.5 per cent of adults owned 53 per cent of the 
total wealth in England and Wales, while in 1953 the top 1.5 per cent 

10 Simon Kuznets, "Income Distribution and Changes in Consumption," in 
H. S. Simpson, ed., The Changing American Population (New York: Institute 
of Life Insurance, 1962), pp. 36-37. The magnitude of the effect of retire- 
ment on any discussion of income distribution can be realized when it is 
noted that, while the longevity of the population has been constantly rising, 
so that those over sixty-five constitute an increasing portion of the population, 
from 1890 to 1960 the proportion of men in this age group who are still in 
the labor force declined from more than two-thirds to less than a third. 
"Between 1950 and 1960 the percentage declined steeply, from 41.4 to 30.5." 
Philip M. Hauser, "More from the Census of 1960," Scientific American, 
207 (October 1962), p. 35. 

Epilogue 325 

of adults in the United States owned only 27 per cent of the wealth." 11 
A comparison based on sample survey data of the net worth of spending 
units in both countries in 1953 supports these conclusions. In Britain, in 
that year, the top one-tenth of the population held 75.7 per cent of the 
total net worth, as contrasted with 56 per cent for the comparable group 
in the United States. 12 And a recent study of wealth distribution in Great 
Britain concludes that "the ownership of wealth, which is far more highly 
concentrated in the United Kingdom than in the United States, has 
probably become still more unequal and, in terms of family ownership, 
possibly strikingly more unequal, in recent years." 13 

While any discussion of equality cannot ignore the distribution of 
wealth and income, it is important to recognize that the higher standard 
of living of the majority in America, as compared with other countries, 
may contribute to sustaining the characteristically American assumption 
that no man may claim the right to generalized deference from another, 
that no elite has the right to dominance outside of its area of very special 
competence. The concern for equality may in some part be satisfied by 
the fact that the United States is at the point where the majority of the 
population can enjoy a high level of consumption. (The situation of the 
minority of very poor will be discussed below.) In a real sense, in spite 
of considerable inequality of wealth and income, the consumption indi- 
cators of status become more equally distributed with a high national 
wealth level. Thus in terms of 1960 prices, the average income per 
American family rose from $4,160 in 1929 to $5,070 in 1951 and to 
$6,040 in 1959. 14 "Between 1909 and 1929, consumer expenditure per 
head rose almost 45 per cent, and from 1929 to 1958-60 another 52 per 
cent." 15 Such increases, particularly when combined with a reduction in 
relative wealth and in inequality of income, means a substantial shift in 
the direction of equalizing consumption. And it is notable that the dis- 
tribution of personal savings as well became much more equitable between 
the 1920's and the 1950's. A comparison of the distribution of consumer 
durables and property in the United States and Britain indicates that net 
worth "is much more widely distributed in America than in Britain. 

11 Lampman, The Share of Top Wealth-Holders . . . , p. 211. 
15 /<*., p. 215. 

13 Richard M. Titmuss, Income Distribution and Social Change (London: 
Allen and Unwin, 1962), p. 198. 

14 Kuznets, "Income Distribution and Changes in Consumption," op. cit., p. 30. 
Ibid., p. 46. 

326 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

There are comparatively few Americans who own nothing [15 per 
cent]: there are many Britons who own nothing [34 per cent]. . . ," 16 

[T]he over-all difference between the British and American patterns 
of property ownership is largely attributable to differences between 
the lower-paid occupations in the two countries. Property is more 
widely held in America than in Britain, not because the higher-paid 
occupations have more property in America, but because more 
manual workers, more clerical and sales workers, and more retired 
and unoccupied persons have property in America. . . . 

These figures suggest that in respect of property ownership there 
is more difference between the social classes in Britain than in the 
United States. . . . British spending units headed by managers and 
technical employees have net worth which is more than twice the 
all-British average, while American spending units in this group 
have net worth only slightly above the all-American average. At the 
other extreme, British manual worker spending units especially 
skilled manual workers are relatively badly off. The gap between 
them and the managers is very great, while in America it is only 
moderate. 17 

While the American distribution of 'wealth seems less steep than in 
Britain, and seemingly less than some other European nations for which 
data exist, the variations in income in the United States are among the 
highest in the world. As was noted earlier in the discussion of trade- 
union policy, the stress placed on achievement in America seemingly 
fosters a concern with, and an acceptance of, relatively large differences 
in pay among those of varying skills, responsibility, and power. It is 
interesting to note, therefore, that the other great nation which places 
high stress on the value of achievement, the Soviet Union, seems com- 
parable to the United States in inequality of income. This is true, both 
with respect to differences in reward for varying levels of worker skills, 
and in variations between incomes of factory managers and workers. The 
economist David Granick has recently concluded: 

Managers comprise part of the high-income group of Soviet society, 
just as they do in the United States. ... In terms of income in- 
equality the relation between worker and manager in Russia and 

16 Harold Lydall and John B. Lansing, "A Comparison of the Distribution of 
Personal Income and Wealth in the United States and Great Britain," The 
American Economic Review, 49 (1959), p. 59. 

Epilogue 327 

in the United States does not differ too gready. Pre-tax, the Ameri- 
can manager would be a bit ahead; but then his income tax is 
higher. 18 

Comparisons such as these, of course, ignore the social implications of 
the fact that a majority of the American population earn enough to 
purchase some form of the "good" things of die society, a fact which 
is certainly not true of the Soviet Union or of most other nations. But 
if the greater absolute level of income makes possible a more comparable 
style of life among the classes, this pattern of seeming equality in social 
relations is perhaps facilitated even more by what is probably the most 
equitably distributed item in America from a comparative point of view 
education. The pressures to equalize educational facilities reflect the 
emphasis on both equality and achievement, and these pressures are still 

Between 1910 and 1960, according to United States Census data, the 
proportion of sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds attending school increased 
from 43.1 to 80.9 per cent And the enrollment of those of post-high 
school age, eighteen and nineteen years old, as full time students jumped 
from 18.7 to 42.2 per cent. 19 The sharp increase in the educational attain- 
ments of the American people may be seen in a comparison of the 
educational achievements of a 1959 national sample of heads of families 
(Table IX). Only 15 per cent of the youngest group did not go on to 
high school, as compared with 53 per cent of the oldest one, while 30 per 
cent of those under thirty-four have attended college as contrasted with 

17 per cent among those over fifty-four years old. These figures under- 
estimate the increase in education among those eighteen to thirty-four 
years old, since the sample cited is one based on heads of families, and 
consequently the unmarried college students who are still supported by 
their parents are not included in the returns. 

Today, over two-thirds of all Americans in the relevant age groups 
graduate from high school, and over one-third enters colleges or uni- 
versities. These proportions are even higher in the wealthier urbanized 

18 David Granick, "Soviet- American Management Comparisons," U.S. Con- 
gress, Joint Economic Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Statistics, 86th 
Congress, Comparisons of the United States and Soviet Economcs, Part I 
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1959), p. 144. See also 
Herbert McClosky and John E. Turner, The Soviet Dictatorship (New York: 
McGraw-Hill, 1960), pp. 384-385. 

19 Hauser, "More from the Census of I960," op. cit., p. 33. 

328 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

Table K 

Education and Age, 1959 

55 and older 

35 to 54 

18 to 34 


(Born Before 



Per Cent 




Grades 1 through 8 
Grades 9 through 11 
Grade 12 




Grade 12 plus non-academic 




Some college or more 




Source: James N. Morgan, Martin H. David, Wilbur J. Cohen and Harvey E. 
Brazer, Income and Welfare in the United States (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962), 
p. 332. 

northern and western states. In California, well over 40 per cent of all 
college age youth enter an institution of higher learning. But even such 
figures as these do not satisfy the American passion to equalize opportu- 
nity. A Presidential Commission on Higher Education set as a desirable 
and attainable objective that two-thirds of the college age population 
should attend such institutions. And the various public agencies are plan- 
ning to enlarge facilities to reach that figure in die latter decades of this 

Since a college education is a necessary prerequisite for a place on the 
bureaucratic ladder in business and government, it becomes essential to 
Americans to tax themselves to provide such educational opportunities. 
Evidence that Americans are more than willing to pay these costs may be 
seen in the 1959 survey study cited in Table EX. When asked whether 
taxes should pay more of the cost of higher education than they are now 
doing, 52 per cent of the sample of 3,000 family heads said that they 
should, while only 18 per cent favored decreasing the tax burden; 30 per 
cent would continue the present policies. Those family heads with de- 
pendent children were, not unexpectedly more in favor of increasing 
taxes for college than those without them. However, even among the 
latter group, 48 per cent favored higher taxes, as compared with 21 per 
cent who supported a reduction. And even when the respondents were 
differentiated according to income, the highest income group, those 
earning $10,000 or more, showed many more favoring a tax increase 

Epilogue 329 

(41 per cent) than a cut (22 per cent). Strong Democratic partisans 
were more likely than were committed Republicans to favor increasing 
taxes for higher education (56 per cent to 40 per cent), but it is per- 
haps more significant that many more Republicans favored raising taxes 
than advocated a decrease. 20 

The continued strength of liberal social and economic political forces 
in the wealthiest nation of the world also attests to the continued signifi- 
cance of the basic value system in the power arena. Some political experts 
had seen Democratic and liberal strength primarily as an after-effect of the 
Great Depression, and predicted that post-depression generations reared 
in affluent America would vote Republican and conservative. 21 Such ana- 
lysts saw in the election of Eisenhower in 1952 the beginning of a long-term 
Republican era. But in fact, even during the Eisenhower years, the 
Republicans could not elect a majority in either house of Congress (1952 
apart), and they lost strength on the local level. In my judgment, it 'was 
the prolonged post-Civil War Republican reign that 'was the major deviant 
case in the general American political pattern of liberal domination. It was 
brought about by the increment of Negro and northern white votes 
which the Civil War gave to the Republicans as the party which freed 
the slaves and saved the Union. Once the Republicans lost their hold on 
groups won by these issues, the nation returned to the electoral patterns 
set in the eras of Jefferson and Jackson, which ensure a normal majority 
for the party of equality. Today, as before the Civil War, it is an 
electoral handicap to be identified with the party of the elite. 22 Republican 
candidates today, like Whig and Federalist candidates a century or more 
ago, seek to run as personalities rather than as Republicans. In many states, 
it is difficult to find the Republican label on the campaign literature of 

20 James N. Morgan, Martin H. David, Wilbur J. Cohen and Harvey E. 
Brazer, Income and Welfare in the United States (New York: McGraw-Hill, 
1962), pp. 416-418. 

21 Samuel Lubell, The Future of American Politics (Garden City, N.Y.: 
Doubleday Anchor, 1956). 

22 "In America, of course, status, as fixed differential social position, has long 
been in disrepute. Ever since the Revolutionary War, it has borne the hateful 
implications of privilege and subservience. . . . Thus status incurred obloquy, 
and even the party of conservatism that is, the Republican party rejected it. 
Probably nothing has contributed more to the weakness of the conservative 
position in the United States than the fact that this principle, which the 
great conservative leaders like Edmund Burke and Benjamin Disraeli have 
recognized as the foundation stone of conservatism, has been so sharply re- 
jected by American conservatives. . . ." Potter, People of Plenty y pp. 104-105. 

330 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

that party's nominees. Democrats, on the other hand, recognize that the 
party label, the label of the party of the common man, is an asset, and 
they emphasize it. 

Although the majority of employed Americans (primarily those in 
white-collar jobs) do not belong to trade unions, and although unions 
have been subject to continuous criticism as dictatorial, corrupt, and 
excessively powerful organizations, efforts to hamper their activities have 
been defeated by the electorate when subject to referenda in northern 
and western industrial states. Goodly majorities, including the residents 
of well-to-do suburban counties, have voted down anti-union "right-to- 
work" kws. When the voters are asked to cast ballots on issues that are 
defined as business versus unions, the latter almost invariably win. There 
is a strong bias in favor of them as organizations protecting poor people 
against wealthy business interests. 

American egalitarianism is, of course, for white men only. The treat- 
ment of the Negro makes a mockery of this value now as it has in the 
past. During the early nineteenth century, when European leftists and 
liberals were pointing to the United States as a nation which demonstrated 
the viability of equality and democracy, America was also the land of 
slavery. The trauma of slavery is deeply rooted in the American psyche. 
The contradiction between the American value system and the way in 
which the Negro has been treated has, if anything, forced many Ameri- 
cans to think even more harshly of the Negro than they might if they 
lived in a more explicitly ascriptive culture. There is no justification in an 
egalitarian society to repress a group such as the Negroes unless they 
are defined as a congenitafly inferior race. Therefore, Americans 
have been under pressure either to deny the Negro's right to participate 
in the society, because he is inferior, or to ignore his existence, to make 
him an "invisible" man. The South has always insisted on the first 
alternative. The North tried for many decades after the Civil War to 
follow the second. But once the Negro appeared on the northern urban 
scene with his demands for equality, there was no legitimate way to hold 
him down. As Gunnar Myrdal has convincingly demonstrated in his An 
American Dilemma, the American Creed is on the side of the Negro, 
and even men who have strong prejudices against Negroes must assent 
publicly to their rights. The pace is all too slow; the poison of anti-Negro 
prejudice is a part of American culture, and almost all white Americans 
have it, to a greater or lesser degree. White Americans can no more fail 
to absorb anti-Negro sentiments than Christians can avoid assimilating 

Epilogue 331 

some anti-Semitic feelings. But racist sentiments are in sharp conflict 
with American values and create a strain in the minds of Americans, a 
strain which provides an important weapon for those pressing for Negro 

It is important to note that what makes the Negro issue so difficult 
of quick resolution, as compared to prejudice against various immigrant 
groups, is that two centuries of slavery left the American Negro without 
a stable family or community structure. 23 Existence under slavery also 
resulted in a negative reaction to work or achievement. Working hard 
led nowhere. Exhibiting or developing high intelligence often resulted in 
punishment. These negative rewards for conforming to the normal 
American achievement standards continued until deep into the present 
century for most southern Negroes. Hence, the Negro now enters white 
urban society at a much greater disadvantage than any white immigrant 
group ever did. He appears "undesirable." The white community, there- 
fore, continues to punish him for the sins which its forefathers committed 
against his. 

Perhaps the most important fact to recognize about the current situa- 
tion of the American Negro is that equality is not enough to assure his 
movement into the larger society. The greatest progress in the direction of 
securing equal rights for Negroes has occurred since World War II, with 
integration in the armed services, the Supreme Court's decision outlawing 
segregation in schools and other public places, and the passage in various 
northern states and cities of legislation designed to prevent discrimination 
in employment and housing. In spite of all these gains, however, the 
national median income for the non-white population in 1960 was only 
54 per cent of that for whites. (It should be noted, however, that there 
is a tremendous disparity between the South and the rest of the country. 
Thus, southern non-whites average 43.4 per cent of the regional median 
white income, while in the rest of the country the non-white median 
income is 70 per cent of that received by whites. 24 ) On a national basis, 
employed Negroes in 1960 received about 60 per cent of the income of 
whites -2, figure that was almost identical to that of 1950. 25 Unemploy- 
ment, which has been around 5 per cent of the labor force since 1958, 
has been disproportionately concentrated among Negroes. As of mid- 
year 1963, more than 10 per cent of Negroes were unemployed, and 

23 Stanley Elkins, Slavery (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959). 

24 Hauser, "More from the Census of 1960," op. cit., p. 37. 

25 Miller, "Is the Income Gap Closed? 'No!'" op. cit., pp. 50-52. 

332 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

another 10 per cent had only part-time work. 26 One out of four Negroes 
under nineteen years of age in the kbor force was unemployed. 

The reasons for the Negro's seemingly slow rate of economic progress 
do not lie solely in discrimination in the labor market. The fact that the 
Negro population has a much lower level of education and skill means 
that automation has been eliminating the very jobs in which Negroes are 
concentrated. Fair employment legislation does little good if there are no 
decent jobs available for which the bulk of Negroes are qualifed. Ac- 
cording to the 1960 Census, 23.4 per cent of the non-white population 
is functionally illiterate, <c unable to read a newspaper easily." 27 The 
problem is a continuing one, since Negro youth do much less well than 
whites in school. The low emphasis on achievement resulting from their 
past, their weak family structure, and their segregated and inferior 
schools, all adversely affect their capacity to gain from education. To 
break this vicious cycle, it is necessary to treat the Negro more than 
equally, to spend more money rather than equal amounts for Negro edu- 
cation, to have smaller classes with better teachers in predominantly 
Negro schools, to enlarge the scope of counseling and recreation facilities 
available for Negro youth, and the like. The white community must be 
forced to recognize its moral responsibility to subsidize the training of 
Negroes. If the former imperialist nations such as France and Great 
Britain now feel the responsibility to contribute to the economic develop- 
ment of the successor states formed from their empires, white Americans 
today should be prepared to assume responsibility for the educational 
and economic development of the descendants of those whom earlier 
white Americans dragooned from Africa to serve them as slaves. 

The equalitarian pressures in American society obviously do not operate 
independently of the minds of men, and they have meaning only insofar 
as they affect behavior. The abolition of slavery did not occur simply 
because it violated basic morality; it required a heroic struggle by the 
abolitionists to activate the conscience of white America. White Ameri- 

26 E. W. Kenworthy, "Rise in Negro Jobs Linked to Growth," The New 
York Times, June 28, 1963, p. 1; John D. Pomfret, "Literacy Act Tied to 
Equality," ibid. (Western Edition), p. 4. 

27 Hauser, "More from the Census of 1960," op. cit., p. 34. In testifying before 
Congress on the problem of Negro unemployment in July, 1963, Secretary 
of Labor Willard Wirtz reported that 44 per cent of unemployed Negroes 
had not finished the eighth grade. He stated that "many applicants for a 
recent training program for janitors in the District of Columbia could not 
read the labels on boxes of detergent and rat poison." Pomfret, op. cit. 

Epilogue 333 

cans, like all people, prefer to be left in peace; they do not want to be 
told that their behavior violates their sense of right. Equalitarian values 
are a force in the Negro's favor, but their efficacy depends on whether 
men are willing to use them as political weapons. And while the Negroes 
themselves have been a major force pressing for their rights, appealing to 
the morality of the majority group, the very social and economic in- 
equality of the Negroes reduces their political power. Like all depressed 
and uneducated groups, Negroes vote less and participate less in 
politically relevant organizations than do more advantaged groups. Even 
the Negro Revolt of 1963 is largely the work of college students and 
others from the middle-class Negro minority. Unless whites are willing 
to take up their cause in order to force politicians, businessmen, labor 
organizations, and other relevant groups to support the necessary meas- 
ures, Negro inequality will remain a blot on the American claim to be 
democratic and will prevent foreigners from recognizing how real and 
significant is the national commitment to equalitarianism as is evidenced 
in other spheres of American life. 

While Negroes constitute the most visible example of economic and 
social deprivation in the United States, they are joined at the bottom of 
the economic ladder by a large white group. Various estimates, by 
economists, government agencies, and labor organizations, of those living 
in poverty in the United States have varied from 20 to 40 per cent of the 
population. 28 Negroes constitute about 25 per cent of the poverty- 
stricken, twice their proportion in the population, but are still out- 
numbered by the poor whites. 

The modern American poor are significantly different from the poor in 
the economically less developed countries and in the past of this country. 
They vary from the poor elsewhere in having a much higher absolute 
standard of living. This fact, however, should not be a matter for self- 
congratulation. The lowest fifth of the population of the United States 
had an average income in 1958 of $1,460 per family. This is considerably 
higher than the income per family in many nations, but the standard of 
what constitutes a decent level of life obviously is much different for an 
American than for an Iranian village dweller or for the resident of a 
Chinese commune. Living in a nation in which success is expected of all, 

28 For a discussion of these estimates and their sources see Michael Harrington, 
The Other America: Poverty in the Unhed States (New York: Macmillan, 
1962), pp. 175-101. The most comprehensive set of references to the literature 
on this subject may be found in Morgan et al. } Income and Welfare in the 
United States. 

334 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

and in which the poor are aware that they live on a level much below 
that of the great majority, must result in a sense of frustration, of 
alienation from the society. It will be of a different order from that which 
exists among those who must worry about enough food to eat and who see 
some of their children die while young, but the sense of relative depriva- 
tion, of personal inadequacy, may be greater than exists among the poor 
in nations where they can feel that they are living a life akin to the ma- 
jority of their fellow men. By the standards which the highest 60 per 
cent of the American population use to define the modicum of a livable 
existence, the poor, those with less than $3,000 to $5,000 a year income 
(to take a low point which must vary with size of family) are living in 
miserable conditions. They lack decent housing, a good diet, adequate 
clothing, and, most important of all, the ability to have pride in them- 

But the greater income, or the possibly increased sense of relative 
deprivation, which characterizes the American poor as compared with 
those elsewhere, is not the most significant fact about the condition of 
this group in the United States of the 1960's. Rather, as John Kenneth 
Galbraith and Michael Harrington have emphasized, poverty is not a 
general condition of the lower strata as it once was in the American past 
and still is in most nations. Where the majority of the working-class or 
the rural population are poor, they constitute an actual or potential force 
pressing for a general improvement in their lot. Thus, in the under- 
developed countries, the dominant parties seek to foster rapid economic 
growth so as to reduce mass poverty. In the United States, the lower 
classes once provided the mass base for political movements, farm organi- 
zations, and trade unions, which advocated reform legislation designed to 
improve the situation of the more deprived groups. The leaders of parties 
and mass organizations were sensitive to the demands and plight of the 
depressed. Many middle-class intellectuals devoted considerable energies 
to publicizing their situation and to supporting measures for economic 

Today, however, poverty is not general; it is located in special pockets 
of the society. And these pockets are both politically weak and relatively 
invisible. The affluent middle class and the well-paid, skilled section of the 
working class are almost unaware of the existence of large numbers of the 
very poor. The poor today are not the bulk of the urban proletariat or 
the majority of a predominant farm population; rather, they are con- 
centrated among the Negroes, the aged, the uneducated, the unskilled, 
the migrant farm workers, small farm operators, families which have lost 

Epilogue 335 

their male head, and that large group of persons with individual handi- 
caps (those with low LQ.'s or those suffering from mental illness, physical 
deformities, or other chronic illnesses). The handicaps of many in the 
latter group, of course, are as much a consequence as a cause of poverty, 
since the poor are disproportionately subjected to such morbidities pre- 
cisely because of their poverty. In evaluating the social sources of poverty 
for a Senate Committee, Robert Lampman estimated that over two-thirds 
of the low-income group have an eighth grade education or less, one- 
quarter are over sixty-five years of age, one-quarter are in families in 
which the woman is the chief breadwinner, and one-fifth are non- 
white. 29 These categories overlap considerably, of course. Lampman re- 
ports that 70 per cent of the low-income group have at least one of these 
characteristics, a finding which suggests that low education is the principal 
intervening variable which determines income opportunities, since race, 
age, and family instability are associated with extent of education. 
Lampman's analysis has since been reiterated in a comprehensive study of 
factors related to low income completed by a group at the University 
of Michigan's Survey Research Center. 30 It is significant to note that 
beyond the variables cited above, one-half of the poor families in this 
survey live in the South, and that a "sizable majority of poor families 
live in areas beyond the suburban belts surrounding metropolitan areas, 
where the variety and number of jobs available are not as great as in the 
large cities and their environs." 31 

It is difficult to predict whether existing trends will operate to reduce 
the proportion of the very poor in succeeding decades. Robert Lampman, 
who estimates that about 20 per cent are now in the poverty-stricken 
class, concludes on the basis of his analysis of long-run trends that by 
1977-1987 this will decline to 10 per cent. 32 He bases this conclusion on 
the assumption of a continuing rate of economic growth. In addition to 
this factor, the expansion of educational facilities should reduce the 
proportion of individuals who lack the skills to hold relatively well-paying 

29 Robert J. Lampman, The Low Income Population and Economic Growth, 
U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee, Study Paper No. 12, 86th Congress, 
1st Session, December, 1959, pp. 6-9. 

30 Morgan et al, Income and Welfare in the United States, pp. 188-217. 

81 Ibid., p. 212. Poverty in this study is defined as not earning enough to main- 
tain a necessary minimum standard of living, as defined by social agencies in 
determining eligibility for assistance and free medical care. According to this 
standard 20 per cent of all families are living in poverty, and another 20 per 
cent are slightly above this minimum. 

82 Lampman, The Low Income Population and Economic Growth, p. 24. 

336 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

jobs. And it should be noted that changes in the occupational structure 
are constantly reducing those positions which are least rewarding eco- 
nomically: small farms, farm labor, and unskilled manual labor. 

These optimistic projections are countered, however, by the fact that 
the United States' economic growth rate (2 per cent) has remained for a 
number of years the lowest of any developed country except Britain's; by 
the fact that, over the past five years, the economy has been unable to 
create new jobs to repkce those eliminated by automation or made 
necessary by the expansion of the labor force as a result of population 
growth; and, finally, by the implications of the fact that the poverty- 
stricken have much larger families than do the well-to-do. Lampman in- 
dicates that one-third of the 20 per cent of the population in the low- 
income class are under eighteen. And we know from a variety of studies 
that poverty tends to sustain itself in a self-maintaining cycle; the children 
of the very poor as compared to others are less motivated to achieve, 
do less well in school, and enter the labor market with fewer of the 
skills which might enable them to compete for good jobs. Increasing 
automation also contributes over the short run, at least to an increase 
in the very poor, since older men (age forty or older), once they are 
displaced by the elimination of the need for their traditional skill, find it 
extremely difficult to relocate in a well-paying position. 

The data from the University of Michigan Survey Research Center 
study do offer some hope that the younger, better educated children 
of the poor succeed in securing better jobs than their fathers. Two- 
thirds of those from poverty-stricken families who had completed their 
education at the time of the interviews in 1959 had secured more than an 
eighth grade education and almost half of them (45 per cent) had 
finished high school. 38 Among the children of unskilled workers, 44 per 
cent of those fifty-five or older in 1959 were in unskilled jobs, in 
contrast to 3 1 per cent among those in the thirty-five to forty-four bracket 
and only 21 per cent among those under thirty-five years old. 34 In other 
words, as a group, the younger offspring of the unskilled are now working 
in jobs which require more education and skill, which pay more, and 
which are less vulnerable to economic fluctuations than those held by their 

But if structural trends with respect to education and skill are favor- 
able to a long-term decline in the proportion among the population who 

83 Morgan et al., Income and Welfare in the United States., p. 211. 

84 Ibid., p. 337. 

Epilogue 337 

live at the level of poverty, the data for the 1950's indicate that it is 
impossible to rely on structural trends alone to eliminate or sharply 
reduce income inequality. As has been noted, the very forces which 
have upgraded the economy have also served to make a hard-core minority 
out of the poor, the clearly underprivileged. The economically well-to- 
do, the middle class, both self-employed and employed, and the organized 
workers in the skilled crafts and mass production industries constitute a 
majority of the population. The Democratic Party, the more left-wing 
party, is today largely responsive to pressures from middle-class liberal 
intellectuals and relatively well-paid trade unionists. And though it con- 
tinues to espouse the cause of Negro equality, and to favor the extension 
of welfare measures and the equalization of opportunity for example, 
medical care for the aged and federal aid to education on the whole it 
has not fostered a drive for a massive (and therefore costly) attack on 
poverty. No prominent Democrat, for example, has proposed to extend 
old age pensions to the point where the State will provide for a pension 
of 65 per cent of the average of the top fifteen years of a man's earnings, 
as has been enacted in Sweden; or to reduce the pressures on older 
workers who face elimination by automation, by means of lowering the 
retirement age to fifty-five which has been done in a number of na- 
tions; or to extend leisure and increase the need for labor by guaranteeing 
a three- or four-week vacation with pay, as the Swedish government is 
proposing and as a number of other countries have already provided. Few 
Democrats in high places seriously propose to increase sharply the con- 
tribution of the government to community leisure resources, as Galbraith 
has advocated. Many liberal intellectuals, believing that they live in an 
affluent, relatively equalitarian society, have in fact deliberately turned 
away from a concern with economic betterment of the underprivileged 
(the Negroes apart). They now direct the bulk of their criticism at the 
quality of American culture, and their targets include mediocre taste in 
architecture, bad urban planning, the corrupting character of the mass 
media, the uninspired quality of public education (the weaknesses of 
high schools in preparing students for college is of much more concern 
to them than the lack of school resources in lower-class areas), the dilu- 
tion of taste fostered by advertising and by companies seeking the largest 
possible market, and the supposedly new emphases on conformity and 
status seeking in middle-class suburbs and corporate bureaucracies. The 
trade unions, like all interest groups, are primarily concerned with serving 
the particular needs of their own members and with preserving and ex- 
tending their organizational influence on industry and the polity. 

338 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

Most of these causes are well worth the effort put into them, but 
they also serve to deflect attention from the fact that for thirty to fifty 
million people, America is not an affluent society, that for this group the 
very emphasis on equality and achievement may intensify their sense of 
frustration. The Negroes are not the only depressed group left in 
America, and it ill becomes those who see this country as legitimately 
dominated by an egalitarian ethos to desist from the battle to extend 
economic equality. If the Democratic Party ignores its historic mandate to 
press for egalitarian reforms, then it may well suffer another catastrophe, 
equivalent to that which affected it in the 1850's when it failed to meet 
the slavery issue. For the American class system will not stand still, 
nor will it automatically continue to become more equalitarian. The 
changes occasioned by technology and the requirements of America's 
world role upset existing relationships. Men must respond deliberately 
to the requirements of their day; the fact that our basic values are still 
those set down in the Declaration of Independence means that the left, 
now as in the past, has the strength of these beliefs working on its side. 
But it must work to convert such national predispositions into meaningful 
policies. If it does not, then the pressures toward stabilizing the 
privileges of the more well-to-do and the more powerful, which are 
characteristic of all complex human societies, may reverse the trend 
toward equality and if allowed to operate unchecked, may even begin to 
change these very values themselves. 

An example of the way in which the American value system may be 
negated can be seen in the passage and continued existence of restrictive 
immigration legislation biased in favor of Nordic Protestants. The passage 
of this law in 1924 eliminated the universalistic and egalitarian principle 
which asserted that anyone had a right to become an American, that to 
become one required only that one wanted to be an American, not that 
one be lucky in having chosen one's parents. And though it is possible to 
argue that the imposition of numerical restrictions on immigration was 
necessary with an end of an open land frontier, the fact remains that 
to have imposed particularistic ethnic and religious restrictions on im- 
migration constituted a fundamental violation of traditional American 

Fortunately, an examination of the forces which precipitated the pas- 
sage of this law suggests that it did not reflect a clear-cut rejection of the 
American Creed. Rather, in the 1920's its enactment together with the 
passage of the Prohibition Amendment to the United States Constitution 
which occurred a few years earlier, the enactment in many states of kws 

Epilogue 339 

barring the teaching of evolution, and the rise of the Ku KIux Klan 
represented the power of the backwash of provincial resentment against 
structural changes within the society which were weakening the social and 
political influence of the more fundamentalist small-town and rural 
Protestants. The 1920 census reported that for the first time in American 
history, a majority lived in "urban areas." And the urban areas, par- 
ticularly the culturally and economically dominant metropolitan cities, 
were centers of opposition to evangelical Protestant influence, an op- 
position consisting of Catholics, Jews, and adherents of the liberal high- 
status Protestant denominations. To the ascetic smalltown Protestants, 
these cities represented drunkenness, immorality, political corruption, and 
cosmopolitanism. Many evangelical Protestants backed Prohibition and 
nativism because they saw real evidence that the increase in the size of 
the non-Protestant population and the growth of the metropolis were 
undermining their way of life, were relegating them and their com- 
munities to a minority position. 

The crusade to keep America Protestant by imposing ascetic norms 
on the total population and by barring massive non-Protestant immigra- 
tion is actually almost as old as the United States itself. From Jefferson's 
day to Wilson's, there was an association between conservative politics, 
efforts to impose ascetic Protestant morality on the lower classes often 
viewed as largely immigrant in composition and attempts to limit im- 
migration of (or to withhold equal rights from) the foreign-born. In 
almost every generation, "old American" groups which saw themselves 
"displaced," relatively demoted in status or power by processes rooted in 
social change, have sought to reverse these processes through the activ- 
ities of moralistic movements or political action groups. Conflict between 
the advocates of ascetic and nativist doctrines, usually associated with 
the Federalist-Whig-Republican party, and their more culturally cos- 
mopolitan and egalitarian opponents, most often located in the non- 
Southern Democratic Party, has characterized much of American history. 

The victories which these fundamentalist groups attained after World 
War I did not, however, indicate that the basic values had been adjusted 
in their favor. If anything, as I have suggested above, they won their 
legislative battle on the very eve of their loss of a numerical majority 
in the nation. 35 Their strength at the time was in part a result of the 

35 The chief national lobbyist of the Anti-Saloon League pressed for the en- 
actment of Prohibition before 1920 because, as he openly stated at a conven- 
tion of the League: "We have got to win it now because when 1920 comes and 
reapportionment is here, forty new wet Congressmen will come from the 

340 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

coincident combination of, first, the greatest Republican electoral victory 
in history, resulting from the resentment of many traditional Democratic 
ethnic groups to the fact that Wilson had taken the country into a war 
they opposed, and second, the intensity of fundamentalist feeling oc- 
casioned by the fact that their real decline had become more manifest 
than ever. 

The sources of support for such policies began to disintegrate almost as 
soon as they were enacted into law. The Ku Klux Klan collapsed before 
the 1920's ended. In 1928, Al Smith, though a Catholic and an avowed 
anti-Prohibitionist, secured a larger proportion of votes outside of the 
fundamentalist, Prohibitionist, and rural South than any previous Demo- 
cratic presidential candidate in the twentieth century, with the exception 
of Woodrow Wilson in 1916. The Great Depression provided the death 
blow for prohibition; repeal was regarded as a measure that would help 
spur business and increase employment. The existence of mass un- 
employment, however, strengthened the sentiment supporting restrictions 
on immigration, and the nationalist fervor occasioned by war and con- 
tinued postwar international tensions have reinforced them. Gradually, 
however, the more bigoted aspects of the restrictions are being eliminated. 
The United States has taken many "non-quota" European refugees from 
non-Nordic Protestant areas, and the administration of the quotas is 
being slowly liberalized. The country will probably never return to a 
state of unrestricted immigration; but it will probably curtail discrimina- 
tion based on national origins as a means of differentiating among those 
who may enter. 

The Ever-Present Conflict between Equality and Inequality 

In evaluating the continued effect of the value system on various 
institutions, I am not arguing the case for sociological determinism as an 
alternative to economic determinism. In presenting the thesis that there 
was a relationship between the Protestant ethic and economic develop- 
ment, Max Weber did not argue in terms of any necessary condition. 
Rather, he advanced the generalization that certain values inherent in 

great wet centers with their rapidly increasing population." Wayne B. Wheeler, 
quoted an Peter Odegard, Pressure Politics, The Story of the Anti-Saloon 
League (New York: Columbia University Press, 1928), p. 173. The majority 
of Democrats outside of the South voted against the Prohibition Amendment 
in the House of Representatives. It was passed with the support of the Re- 
publicans and Southern Democrats. 

Epilogue 341 

ascetic Protestantism were extremely encouraging to the capitalist ac- 
cumulation of wealth. In the same way, I have been urging here that 
certain elements of the American value system encourage various forms 
of behavior and institutional reaction and development. But the precise 
developments which occur at any given time in history are a result of a 
multitude of factors. Men must act to secure the kind of social order that 
they want. American values, more than those of other nations, have 
encouraged men to apply equalitarian and achievement orientations to 
the polity and its various institutions. But other forces have pressed 
men in very different directions. The privileged strata in America, as in 
other countries, have sought to maintain and enhance their advantages. 
And they have been able to win victories in the struggle with the 
egalitarian left. The Civil War, led in the North by the party allied 
with business, ironically strengthened economic and class conservatism 
greatly. The very success of the American Revolution and its leftist 
political aftermath, which gave the lower strata a place in society 
superior to that of lower classes in any other nation, also meant that 
there was less that they would want in the future. The subsequent 
moderation of American class politics is related to the fact that 
egalitarianism and democracy triumphed before the workers were a 
politically relevant force. Unlike the workers in Europe, they did not 
have to fight their way into the polity; the door was already open. 
Hence, they had little use for socialist revolutionary theories, for ap- 
proaches which argued the class domination of the society. And the lack 
of a social base for a really radical working-class party has given a seem- 
ingly conservative face to American politics and even to its ideology, 
when viewed from the vantage point of Marxist doctrine. 

In a world in which radicalism is equated with some form of Marxism 
and socialism, a nation without such movements or ideological tendencies 
seems conservative. But as Leon Samson argued, the weakness of socialism 
as an American ideology reflects, in part, the similarities between the 
ideological content of socialism and that of Americanism as laid down in 
the Declaration of Independence. 36 Americans have always defined the 
preferred relationships among men in the same terms as have most 
socialists. And since their self-conception leads them to believe that such 
relationships actually characterize America or are the agreed-upon ob- 
jectives toward which the nation is moving socialism as such has never 
been able to make much headway. In a real sense, the more conservative 

86 Leon Samson, Towards a United Front (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 
1933), pp. 1-90. 

342 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

the adjustment which a nation made to facing the problems of industriali- 
zation, that is, the more it preserved aspects of traditional pre-industrial 
values, particularly ascription and elitism, the greater the strength of 
radical lower-class movements within it. The United States, which 
retained fewer of these values than did any industrialized European 
country, has consequently been able to adjust to the structural changes 
imposed by economic and population growth with much less intense class 
conflict. Since progress is part of America's national self-image, progressive 
movements have been able to induce change without becoming radical. 
And the very success of earlier progressive movements has often eased the 
way for the victory of latter-day ones, so that these, when they arose, 
could hope to triumph by following moderate techniques. As Selig Perl- 
man has pointed out, a major reason for the political moderation of the 
American labor movement lies in the fact that battles, such as the struggle 
for adult suffrage, which organized workers had to win in other nations, 
were already won and finished with before trade unions appeared on the 

Another cause for the lack of "class consciousness" in American 
labor was the free gift of the ballot which came to labor at an early 
date as a by-product of the Jeffersonian democratic movement. In 
other countries where the labor movement started while the work- 
ingmen were still denied the franchise, there was in the last analysis 
no need for a theory of "surplus value" to convince them that they 
were a class apart and should therefore be "class conscious." There 
ran a line like a red thread between the laboring class and the other 
classes. 37 

Ironically, though many foreigners view the United States as the one 
great stronghold of conservatism, it is the right-wingers, the American 
practical conservatives, who feel most alienated from the polity. The 
radical right finds a mass base; the radical left has little support. This fact 
tells a great deal about contemporary American society. Conservative 
businessmen and right-wing ideologists speak of the "liberal Establish- 
ment"; they believe that the dominant center of power in the country- 
is on the left. American businessmen and conservatives, like their Swedish 
counterparts, report that the government and the society is opposed to 

87 Selig Perlman, The Theory of the Labor Movement (New York: Augustus 
M.KelIey, 1949), p. 167. 

Epilogue 343 

them. While this feeling of inferiority leads to a gross exaggeration of 
the realities of liberal power, since the strengths of business outside of the 
electoral arena are enormous, the fact remains that the United States is a 
nation in which the upper social and economic classes do not regard 
themselves as being in power. Businessmen are harangued by their as- 
sociations and journals to learn how to participate in politics, and to 
follow the example of the liberals, intellectuals, and trade unionists, who, 
in their view, dominate the polity. 

The recurrent conflict between liberal and conservative forces, be- 
tween groups linked to equality or achievement, will continue as long 
as America is free. The forces making for elitism, for inequality, will 
seek, often successfully, to strengthen themselves. If they achieve a major 
permanent breakthrough, then America will become a different nation 
in terms of its values. If, for example, the values of a military society, 
which are elitist and diffuse, increasingly dictate the norms of the entire 
society, then one will not be able to speak of the continuity of values. To 
build and maintain a free and equalitarian society is the most difficult task 
political man has ever set himself. There are tendencies inherent in human 
social organization which seek to destroy freedom and to foster inequality. 
Hence the effort to prevent them from dominating must be a constant 
one. It must be directed against poverty and its related evils at one hand, 
and against ascription and elitism at the other. Most efforts to erect or 
continue democratic polities have disintegrated. The American experi- 
ment may very well fail. On the other hand, the fact that this New 
Nation has succeeded in fostering economic growth and democracy under 
the aegis of equalitarian values holds out hope for the rest of the world. 
For prosperity, freedom, and equality cannot be for white men only. 
If they are, then they will prove to have been as illusory and impermanent 
as the slave-based democracies of ancient Greece. 

Comparative Analysis 

From a methodological vantage point, that is, the concern with the 
creation of social science, this book is designed to illuminate the. way in 
which sociological value analysis may contribute to generalizations about 
the sources of variation among complex societies. I write "illuminate" 
deliberately, since it should be dear that this work has not "proved" 
anything about the causes of differences among social systems. What I 
have attempted, rather, is to use a certain conceptual framework to point 

344 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

out possible relationships between the pattern of dominant value orienta- 
tions and the content of their internal differentiation. 

Clearly, if we are to move from purely descriptive comparative 
analysis, or narrowly focused historical comparison, to hypotheses con- 
cerning the generalized characteristics of such differences, we must have 
concepts, for which reliable indicators can be found, that permit sys- 
tematic comparisons of different nations. As I suggested earlier, Talcott 
Parsons has inaugurated the major effort in this direction. His concepts, 
while obviously subject to considerable further refinements, do permit the 
comparison of complex units in terms of a number of predominant value 
orientations. As yet, however, little work has been done on the problem 
of linking such concepts to systematic empirical indicators (for example, 
how to differentiate units as being higher or lower in particularism or 

Perhaps the most important efforts to test hypotheses about comparative 
national development by the rigorous methodology of modern social 
science have been initiated by Karl Deutsch. His study, Nationalism and 
Social Communication, demonstrated ways in which social scientists could 
test hypotheses concerning magnitudes in the variation of significant 
characteristics among different segments of a nation, and concerning its 
prospects for surviving as an integrated society. 38 In Political Community 
and the North Atlantic Area, he and a group of historians examined 
twenty historical efforts to create new national communities out of what 
had been separate entities. As has been noted earlier, some of their 
hypotheses are comparable to those suggested by the specific early Ameri- 
can experience. They, however, sought to define the conditions for a 
particular type of new state by extensive comparative references to events 
in these societies, rather than an intensive case study of one society. 39 
Still a third approach to the problem of testing hypotheses concerning 
the conditions for social and political development has involved the use 

38 Karl Deutsch, Nationalism and Social Communication (New York: John 
Wiley, 1953). Stein Rokkan's efforts to systematize analysis of the sources 
and consequences of ways in which new strata were admitted to the suffrage 
in various societies is also noteworthy in this respect See his, "The Compara- 
tive Study of Participation," in Austin Ranney, ed., Essays on the Behavioral 
Study of Politics (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1962), esp. pp. 66-85. 
89 Karl Deutsch, S. A. Burrell, R. A. Kann, M. Lee, Jr., M. Lichterman, 
R. E. Lindgren, F. L. Loewenheim, and R. W. Van Wagenen, Political 
Covmrnnity and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton: Princeton University 
Press, 1957), and Gabriel Almond and James S. Coleman, eds., The Politics 
of Developing Areas (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960). 

Epilogue 345 

of quantitative parameter data. 40 These data, however, are for the most 
part originally collected without reference to a complex conceptual 
scheme. They do yield much knowledge about the interrelated correlates 
of social structure; but the data collectors and manipulators will in the 
future have to be guided by theory which directs them to sources of data 
which census takers do not normally gather and might not think of 
looking for. 

To find indicators of elitism in a culture, it might be useful to do a 
content analysis of symbols in samples of fiction, both popular and elite; 
or one might make a comparative study of military manuals among various 
nations. The sources of recruitment to different schools, government 
units, business organizations, and so forth would be hard data bearing 
on the extent of particularism in a society. Data from public opinion 
polls in various nations is an obvious source of evidence to test and 
elaborate hypotheses such as have been offered in this book. For the most 
part there has been little such comparative research explicitly guided by 
general theoretical considerations of a comparative sort. Perhaps the best 
example of such work is that of David McClelland and his collaborators, 
who have attempted to test various hypotheses concerning the psycho- 
logical factors related to economic development on a comparative scale. 
As has been noted, McClelland has made detailed content analyses of the 
themes of children's stories in many countries and over considerable 
periods of time. He has also secured field data, based on interviews and 
questionnaires, designed to relate variations in personality patterns to oc- 
cupational orientations in a number of countries. There are few methods 
or types of data, whether from ancient Greece or the modern Com- 
munist world, that McClelland is not prepared to use to elaborate his 
approach. 41 

40 For example, see Lyle Shannon, "Is Level of Development Related to Ca- 
pacity for Self-Government?" American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 
17 (1958), pp. 367-382; Russell H. Fitzgibbon, "A Statistical Evaluation of 
Latin American Democracy," Western Political Quarterly, 9 (1956), pp. 607- 
619; Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society (Glencoe, 111.: The 
Free Press, 1958), especially p. 63; S. M. Lipset, Political Man: The Social 
Eases of Politics (Garden City, N.Y.; Doubleday, 1960), chapter 2; Karl 
Deutsch, "Toward an Inventory of Basic Trends and Patterns in Comparative 
and International Politics," American Political Science Review, 54 (1960), 
pp. 34-57; and idem, "Social Mobilization and Political Development," iKd. 9 55 
(1961), pp. 493-514. 

41 See David C. McClelland, The Achieving Society (Princeton, N.J.: Van 
Nostrand, 1961); McClelland, J. W. Atkinson, R. A. Clark, and E, L. Lowell, 

346 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

We do not really know how similar and how different are men in 
various cultures. This book has emphasized differences among people 
living in such highly similar societies as those of the major English- 
speaking democracies. However, it would be possible to write an interest- 
ing and important book about similarities in taste and behavior among men 
in comparable or even highly varied societies. 42 What is one to make of 
the fact that the Readers Digest, the most popular magazine in the United 
States, edited and published for Americans, is also the most popular 
magazine in many other countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin 
America? Why do Finns, Arabs, or Latins prefer a translated version of 
an American magazine largely dealing with American themes to magazines 
written by their compatriots? The Digest apparently has located a 
common bond of taste which unifies men in different cultures. Similarly, 
other popular cultural activities the movies, jazz, various sports have 
all had considerable appeal to the residents of nations which vary 
greatly in literacy, wealth, cultural history, religious values, and so forth. 
A study of the social prestige of occupations in various parts of the 
developed and underdeveloped world indicates high similarities in the 
rankings of comparable occupations in these nations. 43 If one may argue 
that any two nations, even two as similar as the United States and 
Canada, can be shown to be quite different, it is also possible to demon- 
strate that people everywhere have much in common. 

Whether one stresses similarities or differences is to some extent a 
matter of taste or, rather, of conceptual frameworks. One may say about 
many things, "as much as" or "as little as." If one assumes that stratifica- 
tion and the pressure to pass on one's privileges to one's offspring are 
inherent in human social organization, then a national rate of social 
mobility in which one-third move down the class ladder appears high. 
If, however, one judges a system against a norm which demands perfect 

The Achievement Motive (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1953); and 
McQelknd and G. A. Friedman, "A Cross-Cultural Achievement Motivation 
Appearing in Folk-Tales," in G. E. Swanson, T. M. Newcomb, and E. L. 
Hartley, eds,, Readings in Social Psychology (New York: Henry Holt, 1952), 
pp. 243-249. For an interesting effort by an economist to apply psychological 
concepts to the comparative and historical analysis of problems of economic 
development, see Everett E. Hagen, On the Theory of Social Change (Home- 
wood, EL: The Dorsey Press, 1962). 

42 Deutsch, et aL, Political Community and the North Atlantic Area, do this 
with respect to the relatively similar nations of the North Atlantic area. 

43 Alex Inkeles and Peter Rossi, "National Comparisons of Occupational Pres- 
tige," American Journal of Sociology, 61 (1956), pp. 329-339. 

Epilogue 347 

equality of opportunity, then the fact that most of the privileged strata 
do not fall seems inequitable. The way that one looks at social data de- 
pends in large measure on the questions asked, the theory employed, and 
the classifications used. It should be obvious that in dealing with complex 
subjects, no matter how rigorous the methodology employed, in elaborat- 
ing or presenting a thesis which involves interrelating such structural 
variables as national values, class, personality, and the like, most social 
scientists basically present an argument which they then "validate" by 
showing that there are more positive than negative data available. Most 
of our concepts, however, are necessarily very imprecise, and con- 
sequently leave a great deal of room for the analyst unwittingly to find 
reasons for selecting those indicators which best fit the conceptual 
framework he is using. And when existing data are confirmatory, we 
are not motivated to look further. It is only when the data are in con- 
flict with our theory, hunches, or prejudices that most social scientists 
decide there must be something wrong with the data or with the con- 
cepts underlying the selection of the data, and look further. In reading 
the work of others, we are normally inclined to accept their findings as 
both valid and reliable, as long as they agree with our predispositions. 
Disagreement, however, results in efforts to re-analyze the evidence and 
to demonstrate that previous work has drastically oversimplified, or 
simply ignored, much data. 

It is important to recognize that by looking at the same problem from 
different theoretical perspectives, we increase knowledge about social 
processes. Different conceptual frameworks lead one man to highlight 
certain aspects which another ignores. Often findings that appear to be 
contradictory merely reflect the fact that different scholars have used 
different concepts. Thus a definition of class which is stated exclusively in 
terms of income may result in the conclusion that there has been no change 
in the class structure. On the other hand, a view of the class structure of 
the same society in terms of power or status may suggest that important 
changes have occurred. 44 

This book, like any effort at comparative analysis, is necessarily subject 
to the sins of oversimplification and exaggeration. Oversimplification 
comes about because, in comparing such complex phenomena as national 
value systems and national organizational structures, one must neces- 
sarily gloss over the internal differences that exist. Exaggeration is 

44 A brilliant discussion of the implications of various conceptualizations of 
class is Stanislaw Ossowski, Class Structure in the Social Consciousness (Lon- 
don: Roudedge and Kegan Paul, 1963). 

348 Democracy in Comparative Perspective 

present because any effort to analyze the influence of only one set of 
factors, even if it is as important as the national value system, tends to 
disregard many other variables which are obviously necessary for the 
proper understanding of the variations involved. For example, important 
economic variables, such as differences in past rates of economic growth, 
in current levels of productivity, and in international market situations, 
all of which may have an independent effect on the various national pat- 
terns discussed, have largely been ignored here, partly because I have 
dealt with them in other works, but more significantly because a major 
purpose of this book has been to demonstrate the independent explanatory 
power of value analysis, seen as the codification of historical experiences. 45 

But while the principal scientific contribution of comparative analysis 
is to permit the testing of hypotheses concerning complex social systems, 
it has another less ambitious function, and those who reject the first as 
intellectually unattainable should be able to accept the second. A look 
at the same institution in varying cultural contexts is basic to any effort 
to understand why it has the character it does. To understand the 
American labor movement, American religion, American education, 
American law, or any other institution, it is necessary to know how it 
differs from the comparable institution in other cultures. Only when one 
knows what is unique on a comparative scale can one begin to ask 
significant questions about causal relationships within a country. Hence, 
even that most particularistic of all social scientists, the historian, can 
learn much about American history by studying the history of somewhat 
comparable foreign nations at equivalent points in their development. And 
if this is true for the historian, then it is even more valid for the rest of us. 

A meaningful scientific dialogue requires, of course, certain basic levels 
of agreement on the rules of the discussion. Where problems are stated 
in fundamentally differing terms, as between political "true believers" 
and empirically, behaviorally oriented social scientists, no effective com- 
munication is possible. One must agree concerning the levels of hypothesis 
and the nature of evidence. Where this occurs, the dialogue can result 
in replication and the growth of knowledge. This method has been the 
very meaning of scholarly verification